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Telephone Inquiry Service

Volume 456: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he is taking to improve the (a) performance and (b) accessibility of the telephone inquiry service operated by his Department; and if he will make a statement. (110893)

[holding answer 24 January 2007]: The recent Government response to the Public Accounts Committee report into DWP contact centres identifies ways in which performance and accessibility are being improved:

Technology: is increasingly being used to accurately match staff resource to customer calls;

Processes: are being reviewed and, where appropriate, revised e.g. Jobcentre Plus is introducing a single call process for the majority of benefit customers from May 2007. Customers will access the service using an 0800 number and wherever possible have their application dealt with in one call, without the need for a call back and we are transforming our pension centres so customers can do their business in one call of 20 minutes, rather than taking two hours and several contacts;

Organisation: Ways in which services are organised are being considered e.g. Jobcentre Plus contact centres are specialising and centralising their text phone answering service;

Lessons: Links with other public and private sector contact centre organisations are providing valuable opportunities to learn lessons and share good practice;

Measurement: Improvements in performance across the Department’s contact centres can now be tracked and planned using the contact centre balanced scorecard. Improvement plans, like those used in Jobcentre Plus, include measures to improve call quality and the customer experience;

Numbers: The number of telephone numbers is reducing e.g. the Pension Service is developing plans to integrate its three highest volume lines into one number during 2008.