By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
The number of residents using Service Oshawa has peaked significantly so far in 2019.
Speaking the committee at their most recent meeting, Brenda Jeffs, the manager of customer service for the City of Oshawa presented an overview of operations at Service Oshawa.
Service Oshawa is a multi-channel single point of contact for residents to access many city services according to Jeffs.
She notes they cannot always do what the customer is asking of them, and if that is the case they will make sure they understands why.
The number of calls received per day at Service Oshawa in 2018 was 550, along with 70 e-mails, 20 live chats and 80 counter payments.
She says those numbers are up significantly in 2019 with calls being up 14 per cent, emails 11 per cent, live chat 81 per cent, and counter payments 39 per cent.
“We’re growing, for sure,” she told the committee.
Launched in 2008, Service Oshawa takes calls regarding several different operations in the city.
These calls range from animal services, road operations, and reports of missed garbage collection, Jeffs explained.
“In order to make government more accessible… we accept requests on behalf of the region,” Jeff said.
However, she explains Service Oshawa does not take calls regarding similar services offered by the region.
After calling the staff at Service Oshawa “excellent,” Ward 5 regional councillor Brian Nicholson expressed concern as to what happens after a customer is passed on to another department.
“Staff do not respond to complaints, I’ve filed complaints and never gotten a respondent back ever. I’m told I’m going to get one and it doesn’t occur. Files are closed with no explanation as to why…,” said the veteran councillor.
He is also concerned there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive level for service response, and wonders what steps are taken by Service Oshawa once they get a response from staff departments and are able to respond back to the complainant who called.
According to Jeffs, the response comes directly from the department to the customer, and she doesn’t feel it would be proficient for Service Oshawa staff to pass along answers from staff members.
“We felt that it wouldn’t be an efficient conversation because we may be able to tell them A, B, and C, but the customer might have questions about D, E, and F further to that incident, and that it’s the departments that are the subject matter experts to make those calls,” she explained.
Nicholson questioned Jeffs how the organization knows if customers are satisfied.
She responded the only way to know is for the customer to call them back and tell them.
“So, the only way you know a customer is unhappy is if they call and complain they are unhappy?” Nicholson asked.
Derek Giberson, city councillor for Ward 4, wonders if there is any specific reason for the increase in calls.
“We’re always looking at our call volume because we need it in order to predict how many staff we need on any given day, so we look at it in quite detail,” said Jeffs.
She noted there is an increase across the board in all subject matters, and it relates to growth as new residents generally need a lot of help.
“I haven’t been able to pinpoint it to any one service, so I think it’s a matter of growth,” she explains.
“It could also just be a good sign that more people are becoming aware that the service is available to them,” Giberson responded.