This audit would assess the Department of Human Services’ performance against call wait time and call blocking metrics, as well as the extent to which the department has implemented recommendations from ANAO Audit Report No. 37 of 2014–15, Management of Smart Centres’ Centrelink Telephone Services.
The Department of Human Services delivers payments and related services on behalf of the Australian Government through a variety of channels, including telephone, online, digital applications and face-to-face through some 400 service centres located across Australia. While there has recently been strong growth in digital channels and the department is actively encouraging the use of self-service channels, demand for telephone services remains strong. Previously referred to as call centres, the department now provides telephone services through a network of Smart Centres.
In Audit Report No. 37, the ANAO found that, of the 56.8 million calls made to Centrelink 1800 or 13 telephone numbers in 2013–14, 43.1 million calls were able to enter the network while 13.7 million calls were unable to enter the network. That is, the calls were blocked and the callers received a ‘busy’ signal. The ANAO estimated that, of the calls that entered the network, around 30 per cent were abandoned—that is, the customer hung up without resolving the reason for their call. The ANAO made three recommendations focusing on (1) the implementation of a channel strategy to help deliver improved services across all customer service channels, and a more coordinated approach to the management of call wait times; (2) the application of the department’s quality assurance mechanisms to all relevant staff in Smart Centres; and (3) the review of target performance indicators to better reflect the customer experience and to clarify the service standards that customers can expect.