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Changes to our Information Centre

We’re always looking at ways we can offer the best possible service to the movement and, as part of this, have reviewed the Information Centre. We know we’ve struggled to keep up with demand – and we’re keen to reduce the average waiting time for web chat, phone calls and emails.

From this month, new improvements will make sure your calls and emails are responded quickly and effectively. We’ve also expanded our web chat service as a fast alternative for your quick queries.

In the next few months, we’re focusing on:

  • making sure the team are available at times when demand is highest

  • encouraging the use of web chat for simple questions quickly

  • Using simple, speedy, post-contact surveys to ensure we continually improve performance

Opening times

We currently open from 8am to 7pm in the week, plus Saturday mornings, but the vast majority of people contact us between 9am and 5pm on a weekday. Currently, the team is stretched to cover the long opening hours which means there’s fewer staff available during hours of the day with the highest demand, which is often what causes the wait time on calls to be over 10 minutes.

From 9 September, the Information Centre opening hours will change to 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. These opening hours are similar to the hours offered by Girlguiding, St John Ambulance and Sea Cadets.

In an emergency, the out of hour’s service will remain available 24 hours, seven days a week. So in an emergency just phone the same number.

Why the change?

In the hours we currently open outside 9am - 5pm (including Saturdays), we currently get around 12 calls per hour and the minimum number of staff needed to open the Information Centre is 2, who can typically answer 20 calls per hour between them.  Therefore it is not an efficient use of resource when you consider that we typically receive 30 calls per hour Monday-Friday 9am - 5pm, and miss 5 of them on average. Across 2018 this meant we missed around 10,000 calls at peak times.

Many of these calls would require another call back during the week as support from other teams may be needed to answer the query.  Having all of our staff available Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm will allow us to reduce waiting times, ensure we answer more member questions the first time they call and free up more staff to respond to emails and live web chat.
The number of Advisers in the Information Centre is remaining the same so the investment in supporting our members has not changed, we are just condensing this resource into the core hours of the day to meet the demand.

What happens next?

This is also part of a wider transformation of our support for members, including investing in digital tools and a new member site. These improvements will mean there are less queries to call the Information Centre about and make more information self -service at any time of day.

We’ll continue to monitor the Information Centre services to check these changes are addressing the need to reduce waiting time and be able to answer more calls. If the statistics show that the changes are not improving the situation in six months we will review again what is required.
We know that giving you the right support means you can focus on what’s most important – helping our brilliant young people develop more skills for life. We also understand these changes will not suit everyone and all working patterns but we are working to improve the service for the widest range of members and address the current demand.

Kester Sharpe, Deputy UK Chief Commissioner



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