Rating the Brisbane City Council Call Centre

Summary : The BCC Call Centre received an overall rating of 8.5, the highest rating ever given to a customer service call centre anywhere in the world. The rating is based on evaluation of 3 Key Performance Indicators -

  1. The degree 'Outcome of calls' reflects on the overall performance of the Call Centre.Score 9
  2. The Call Centre Integration with the organisation it serves. Score 8
  3. People Management as reflected by hiring, training, career pathing, involvement of staff in process refinements and fulfillment & staff turnover. Score 8,5

Each of the 3 KPI's was given equal weight in the evaluation.

Note: 28.7.98 In recent email comments to this case study I have beeen asked to modify the World Class Status given the BCC CC because it did not seem to have the latest HIGH Tech normally associated with good call centres. The BCC CC was developed on a shoestring technology budget and works on an Intranet/rather than internet; I don't class a call centre on its technology nor on its call volumen handling, but on how well the call outcomes reflect the purpose & mission given by the organisation which set it up. And in this respect BCC CC is World Class with room for even more improvement. Maybe other call centres could learn to spend more time and money on process mapping and customer interaction and less on high technology wizardry.(your comments are welcome editor@callcentres.com.au ) Niels

Findings :

I. Call Outcome. Score 9 out of 10.

The BCC Call Centre has defined two key performance measures : 1) 90% of all calls resolved at first point of entry & 2) 90% of all calls answered within 20 seconds. Upon investigation we found that the call centre actually achieved both outcomes.

The aim of the call centre is defined as : "To provide its customers with service that is very efficient, convenient and focussed on outcome that exceeds expectations".

We visited the Vision statement of the call centre to ensure it added value to the organisation it serves : "The Call Centre will deliver a ' World Class' service to all its customers by providing a caring, supportive environment with motivated and empowered staff who will embrace and manage change effectively and build constructive relationships with all Council work units".

For the past 10 months the Call Centre has delivered 365 day, 24 hours a day customer service currently handling 110,000 calls a months.(see operational statistics here).

Finally we interviewed The Lord Mayor Jim Soorley & BCC CEO Rob Carter to determine how the Call Centre Outcomes were valued by senior management. Interestingly both men had a firm grasp of the importance of the call centre as an agent of change for further improved customer service delivery and were found committed to expand the depth and scope of the call centre role. The Lord Mayor pointed out that 'The Service Delivery Project', of which the call centre is pivotal had realised substantial productivity gains for the Brisbane City Council in addition to improved citizen satisfaction. As a side note, we found that both Mr. Soorley and Mr. Carter regularly found time to visit the call centre, listen to calls and share everyday operational experiences with the staff.

Please note that the call centre rating model does NOT give weight to customer satisfaction measurements. If customers are satisfied, it will be reflected in outcomes such as a fall in customer complaints or greater & more valuable interaction between the organisation and its customers. Too often customer indifference is scored as a degree of satisfaction.

II. Call Centre Integration. Score 8 of 10

Brisbane City Council is a large and complex organisation and the integration & automation of all customer contact processes is critical to the call centre's ability to resolve 90% of all calls on first point of contact.

A process mapping project of interaction between citizens and the BCC was completed prior to designing & implementing the call centre. All processes were identified, described and quantified as to nature of call/visit and numbers.

Automating the processes and making the information available to reps in the call centre was the next step to investigate.

Customer inquiry fulfillment is a key success factor, reflecting how the integration between the call centre and the BCC Agencies is working,. To facilitate the service delivery, KPI's have been adopted for every single fulfillment task inside each BCC agency. For example Sewage has 19 KPIs setting the maximum time allowed for a response to a citizen request for help. To ensure continued improvement in how customers perceive responsiveness, each rep in the call centre has been given a liaison role to a particular agency. Each call centre rep is actively engaged in process improvement.

Please note that the use of IVR & Voice Mail has been banned in the Call Centre as research has identified multilevel queuing in IVRs as counter productive to fulfilling customer expectation of service excellence, according to BCC CEO Rob Carter. We took this as an uncompromising dedication to exceeding customer expectations while upholding the 90% call answered in 20 second service level.

III. People Management. Score 8,5 of 10

The BCC Call Centre currently has 125 fulltime positions with 140 employees. During its 19 months of operation only one staff member has left (due to relocation to the UK); (staff turn over rate of 0.7%). The active role given to reps to redefine the integration & fulfillment processes inside the BBC agencies empowers the reps to be part of the reengineering team. A documented recruitment process is in place, no Galley Slave type stress syndrome weas found, carreer pathing is integrated with a 'planning to performance program' to help individuals realise their own goals within the BCC organisation. The Rep appraisal model includes measures of quality standards & information consistences.

PS: The simplest test, to determine to what degree a call centre is a Galley Slave, is to note how managers refer to staff. The word 'agent' indicates the call centre is dominated by technology just waiting to replace the live consultant or rep with the next generation CTI/IVR and focussed on call-production rather than outcomes. The People Management rating starts at maximum 3.0 of 10.

A final note : The mislabelling of call centres as 'world class' has so often made a mockery of attempts to rate call centres. The Brisbane City Council Call Centre is simply in a class of its own, in fact in my 13 years in the Call Centre Industry I have only come across 3 call centres of the same calibre - The GE Answer Center in Louisville,Kentucky, The Dell Computer Sales Center in Austin,Texas and The GE Business Information Center (GEBIC) in Albany,NY. As a local Government call centre it is unique, not only in Australia, but in the world.

Niels Kjellerup, editor. Ashgrove July 8th 1998

PS: For those of you interested in the ' how to rate you call centre' model I intend to make it available in our new 'subscription' section on this Website in a couple of weeks.


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