The Daily Mail today reported that the Public Sector remains guilty of making money from callers to many of its helpline numbers such as the student loans company. In fact it claims that two thirds of calls are to premium rate numbers, where callers are often left on hold for some or many minutes at a time. That’s only 40 of its 365 phone lines. With publicity like this it will not be long until government departments will be forced to amend their strategies and revert to freephone 08 numbers or at least those charged at local rates such as 03.
Encourage them to choose those numbers on Gamma’s Inbound service and they can even reverse their poor answering rates. The Public Accounts Committee is reported in the article to have found that HMRC only answers 16% of its calls to the tax credit helpline on deadline day. Whether that is due to low staffing levels to answer the phones or poor call management, call queuing, auto attendant and features such as hunt groups, divert and voicemail to email could all be ways in which they can improve their answering rates.
One of the departments to favor 08 numbers publicly according to the article was the Department for Work and Pensions. A DWP spokesman said: ‘The DWP provides free telephone numbers (0800) for all of our claim lines. The DWP does not earn any revenue from 0845 numbers.’
How long will it be until others take their lead? Now’s the time to strike while the ink is still wet and the bad PR leaves a bitter taste in people’s mouths…