More Centrelink phone operators deployed
An additional 1000 operators will be employed in Centrelink’s call centre, to help deal with large call volumes.
Centrelink receives about one million calls every week and there are times when customers find it difficult to get through on the phone.
Additional operators will enhance Centrelink’s ability to answer more calls and ensure that the service it delivers is in line with customer expectations.
The move follows a successful pilot program which began in October last year, with the engagement of an additional 250 call centre workers through a service delivery agreement with Serco.
The Serco contract, worth $51.7 million over three years, is separate to the 1000 operators announced, and brings the total number of additional staff to 1250.
In just six months, the Serco staff have answered more than 1.4 million calls, or up to 14,500 extra per day. The staff have helped to halve the number of busy signals customers experience.
An independent evaluation of the Serco pilot also found that staff were efficient and were giving the department greater flexibility around peak demand periods.
Like the 250 Serco staff, the 1000 operators will be employed by service delivery providers. This government initiative will not result in any of Centrelink’s employees losing their jobs.
The use of private providers to carry out call centre functions is not new, with this model introduced in 2008 at the Australian Taxation Office.
Call volumes are expected to steadily decline over the next few years as the government continues to roll out the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation program, known as WPIT.
This program will allow most claims to be lodged and processed online, making the process faster and easier for benefit recipients. Customers will also have access to digital assistants to answer many of their questions, further reducing demand on phone services.
The process of selecting service delivery partners will begin soon, following an internal consultation period with staff.
It will be a requirement that all workers are based in Australia, providing local jobs for more Australians and their families.
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