Questions posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to the eThekwini Council have revealed the “shocking state” of the eThekwini Municipality’s customer service centre caucus leader Nicole Graham said on Monday.

“The city’s residents have received shoddy services and failing customer responses for far too long. The Revenue, Electricity and Water call centres were down again last week – this time, due to alleged theft of Telkom infrastructure,” Graham said.

Graham said that the call waiting time for the electricity call centre between January and June 2021 was five minutes long on average. 

“More concerning, the dropped call rate is a shocking 63%. This means that almost two-thirds of residents are not even getting through to an operator. The Water and Sanitation call centre’s waiting time during the same six months was just under two minutes, with 42% of calls being dropped or abandoned,” Graham said..

The Whatsapp line is manned by only two people during office hours and one person at night, she said/

“The Water department has also admitted that their system does not calculate complaints specifically related to billing. This effectively means the department does not have an idea of how many live billing queries it is dealing with at any particular time,” Graham said.

Graham said that the DA had repeatedly reiterated the need to transform the way the eThekwini Municipality’s call centres do business.

“Tens of thousands of residents are plagued with outages and issues on a daily basis and cannot get proper assistance,” she said.

She said she had visited the eThekwini Municipality’s electricity call centre in 2020 and made written recommendations to the city regarding the feedback between faults and communication staff, the handling of Whatsapp queries and the number of staff. 

“At the time the municipality largely blamed Covid-19 for the poor performance and said it was implementing steps to ensure customers were properly attended to. The sale of water and electricity and the payment of rates keep eThekwini Municipality in business. The municipality’s customers deserve a dignified and efficient service that responds to their concerns in full and on time,” Graham said.

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