BCC wins Service Excellence Award

THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is proud to announce that its call centre has been awarded the Service Excellence Award in the public sector, local authorities and utilities category.

The city was awarded the trophy in absentia at an awards dinner ceremony held on October 5 in Harare.

The awards were organised by the Contact Centre Association of Zimbabwe (Caaz). In awarding the accolade to the city, Caaz noted that Bulawayo’s customer service initiatives were considered outstanding in the local authorities’ category.

The Service Excellence Awards were organised and managed by Caaz in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority as part of the international Customer Service week celebrations.

The judging committee consisted of captains of industry, academics and professionals actively involved in the customer service profession. The evaluation process involved individual evaluations, site visits by an auditing company as well as public polls through online and message voting. People voted during online surveys done in Harare, Mutare and Bulawayo.

Bulawayo is proud to be the first municipality to launch a service call centre in an effort to increase interaction with its residents and stakeholders. The council is humbled that the call centre has already been recognised, showing its commitment in spearheading customer service standards and upholding the spirit of “ubuntu” in Bulawayo.

Council notes that the setting up of the call centre would not have suceeded without the assistance of its partners under the Bulawayo Water and Sanitation Emergency Response project (Bowser) who include Australian Aid and World Vision Australia, the funders of the project, World Vision Zimbabwe and Dabane Trust.

The City has also received assistance from its sister city EThekwini Municipality, especially the EThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) department which has been instrumental in the design of the call centre, development of training material and carrying out training of call centre staff.

The concept of setting up a call centre has been on the city’s strategic vision from as far back as 2002 although limited funding affected its ability to implement and set up a call centre for Bulawayo. The Bowser project partnership has as a result fulfilled a long-time dream of the Bulawayo city council.

The call centre under the Bowser project was conceptualised in the second phase of the project after observing there was a need for the municipality to increase interaction with the residents and also provide a channel through which residents complaints could be recorded, implemented and followed up, while residents are also given feedback.

The call centre provides a platform for a centralised and formal system for receiving customer complaints and providing feedback.

It also provides for a tracking mechanism of services against their level standards within the Bulawayo City Council with the aim of improving response times for the implementation of services. All this is bent on achieving effortless customer feedback and increasing customer satisfaction.

The Bulawayo City Council call centre started operating on August 3, receiving water and sewer faults. The fire and ambulance operators commenced operations from the call centre on September 3.

As at November 2 the call centre had received 3 400 calls in water and sanitation. Of these calls 3 355 have been rectified while 45 calls are pending consisting of water leaks, stop corks, meter related problems, low pressure and backfilling activities.

The nature of calls includes: non-availability of water, burst water pipes, water leaks, sewer blockages, street lighting faults, dirty water, water pressure problems, damaged connections, broken hydrants, abuse of municipal water and isolation (due to bursts). The average calls per day for water and sanitation is 50.

In the Emergency Section, 5290 ambulance calls have been received to date, averaging 90 calls per day. Eighty-eight fire calls have been received and there have also been 50 special calls to the call centre.

The development of the call centre by the City of Bulawayo has led to improved customer service excellence. The council has realised a decrease in sewage complaints and the response time to attending faults has drastically improved as compared to the previous months when there was no call centre.

Council has created a good relationship with its valued customers through the attendance to faults and bursts and also in following up with every complaint that comes through the call centre.  The contact centre has also exposed residents to the city’s service delivery challenges as well as providing possible solutions.

The call centre was established because the city recognises the importance of the customer and the rate payers and the need to ensure they are satisfied with the services offered by the municipality.

Customers will be able to dial in to the call centre using a toll free number and make enquiries, report anomalies or request emergency services for cases of fire or ambulances.

The contact centre is fully furnished with top of the range high-tech PABX and radio equipment for speedy, excellent services. It is nothing short of a modern technologically advanced, futuristic call centre — the first of its kind in Zimbabwe.

The Two Way Radio equipment that was used isKenwood Nexedge Digital System and Zetron radio equipment that can use mid-band and high-band frequencies.

Global Communications (Kenwood SA) and Instalite Contracting are credited for  installing the first state of the Art Call Centre system for Zimbabwe.

This equipment, with the use of the ZETRON gear, also has the unique capabilities of direct radio to radio communication, texting/paging information as well as GPS integration.

Base stations have been installed at various Council installations and have aerials good enough to cover the City of Bulawayo. Radios have also been installed on fire engines, ambulances and other service vehicles. Calls coming into the call centre can be radioed directly to relevant plumbers, fire personnel or ambulance technicians for rapid response.

The PABX equipment also uses phones and has Voice over IP capabilities. This means that headsets are connected to a PC loaded with phone software and the Bulawayo City Council Local Area Network is used as the medium for phone conversations. The PABX is also integrated to the radio equipment therefore allowing phone calls to be routed directly to radios where necessary.

With the use of the rapidly growing Bulawayo City Council GPS system and maps, locations for all radios can be detected at the touch of a button. This will increase the response rate for queries or emergencies.

There are vast benefits for the introduction of the BCC call centre which include:
•    Customers (rate payers) will have an easier and cheaper way of accessing the municipality.
•    The customers will be kept up-to-date about information concerning the municipality. The municipality itself will also have a good understanding of the state of the city as feedback from customers will increase.
•    The reduction in response times for critical issues/emergencies will be immediately felt.
•    The increase in customer satisfaction is expected, thus increasing the revenue influx.
•    Employment creation is inevitable in the long run, as the call centre takes more and more of a pivotal role in the service provision of BCC. This might lead to public private partnership arrangements as well.
To support the establishment of the call centre, over 700 Bulawayo City Council staff members have also undergone ZIMHOST customer care training, making Bulawayo the first municipality to have ZIMHOST training. The need to augment good services with good customer care has been realised through customer care training that staff members have undergone.
Residents and stakeholders can contact the City of Bulawayo call centre on the following numbers:

Water and sewer

This equipment, with the use of Zetron gear, also has the unique capabilities of direct radio to radio communication, texting/paging information as well as GPS integration.

Base stations have been installed at various council installations and have aerials good enough to cover Bulawayo. Radios have also been installed on fire engines, ambulances and other service vehicles. Calls coming into the call centre can be radioed directly to relevant plumbers, fire personnel or ambulance technicians for rapid response.

The PABX equipment also uses phones and has Voice over IP capabilities. This means headsets are connected to a PC loaded with phone software and the Bulawayo city council local area network is used as the medium for phone conversations. The PABX is also integrated to the radio equipment thus allowing phone calls to be routed directly to radios where necessary.

With the use of the rapidly growing Bulawayo city council GPS system and maps, locations for all radios can be detected at the touch of a button. This  increases the response rate for queries or emergencies.
There are vast benefits for the introduction of the BCC call centre which include:

Customers (rate payers) have an easier and cheaper way of accessing the municipality.

Customers are kept up-to-date concerning municipal activities. The municipality itself will also have a good understanding of the state of the city as feedback from customers increases.

A reduction in response times for critical issues/emergencies will be immediately felt.

An increase in customer satisfaction is expected, thus increasing the revenue influx.

Employment creation is inevitable in the long-run, as the call centre takes more and more of a pivotal role in the service provision of BCC. This might lead to public private partnership arrangements as well.

To support the establishment of the call centre, over 700 Bulawayo City council staff has also undergone Zimhost customer care training, making Bulawayo the first municipality to have Zimhost training. The need to augment good services with good customer care has been realised through customer care training that staff has undergone.

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