REFERENCE ON THE CITY OF TSHWANE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE QUEUING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

Executive Summary

The role of the Customer Relations Manangement Department in the City of Tshwane is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customer relations management, and to ensure that customers’ needs are a focal point by taking the strategic lead to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customer relations in a coordinated and integrated manner. Its role is also to champion the organisational culture in order to drive customer-centricity and to enhance the customer experience throughout the value chain.

The department is also responsible for initiating processes and systems that respond to the frustration that walk-in centre employees and customers feel about manual administration and the unsystematic queuing process, also focusing on improving the quality of customer services across the city in line with the Batho Pele principles.

The Contact Centre Operations Division within the CRM Department is responsible for first contact interaction between the City and customers in the form of incoming calls (voice contact), face-to-face interaction at various walk-in centres and other communication channels made available by the City.

Challenges facing the CRM Department in serving and satisfying customers

The primary objective of the walk-in centres is to improve service delivery by introducing additional channels through which services can be accessed. The demand for improved service delivery requires that departments and institutions within local government operate in an entirely different manner, based on a resident-centric, proactive and customised approach, thereby ensuring that the municipality is accessible at a convenient location.

In their daily operations, our customer care centres experienced the following challenges:

  • Non-communicative front and back office business processes which result in the front office being unable to track queries end-to-end.
  • Poor behavioural issues that can be attributed to a lack of workforce management, a poor customer-centric culture and a lack of quality assurance and coaching.
  • Fragmented customer management approach at walk-in centres, electricity walk-in centres and call centres. This results in a lack of integrated master data for customers and there being no segmented customer base.
  • Poor system integration and multiple historic systems for the front office leading to information that is inadequately managed, which has an effect on customer data.

Over and above these challenges, customer care walk-in centres were also saddled by the following problems:

  • Manual queue management at the walk-in centres, resulting in much frustration for walk-in centre consultants and customers. People with disabilities and senior citizens waited in long queues, the same as abled-bodied customers and young people. This resulted in customer dissatisfaction with the promptness of customer care walk-in centres in processing municipal accounts and resolving complaints.
  • Unavailability of information on consultant performance and customer history. The manual process where a file was used to record the walk-in centre customers meant time to check, get customer information, log on to the system and check query.

Transitioning to a more effective and efficient customer care walk-in centre model through the implementation of a Queue Management System

Launched in 2019, the Queue Management System (QMS) is an innovative system working on improving customer experience by promoting better service to Tshwane residents in a globally competitive manner, thereby improving the efficiency and effectiveness of customer relations management.

The QMS aims to contribute to the City’s commitment to continuously improve its services to customers and to move the organisation towards being proactive in its customer approach. The system is intended to respond to the frustrations that walk-in centre consultants and customers feel with regard to manual administration and the unsystematic queuing process by enhancing customers’ experience when visiting walk-in centres, and managing the queuing process effectively. The system measures customers’ waiting times and addresses performance management using the same standards at all CRM walk-in centres.

The SEDCO Queuing System is customised to the City’s business processes and ensures that queues are managed as follows:

The services offered by the City are configured in the system and are available at the ticket machine The QMS also displays the relevant product information in real time and calls customers forward.

  • The “soft go-live” approach, as opposed to the “big bang” approach was implemented to ensure that the change was absorbed slowly with minimum negative impact on Tshwane residents.
  • All consultants at walk-in centres were trained before their respective centres went live. The one-on-one line buddy training was effective in that consultants were trained at their own workstations, which ensured that they received individual attention

Benefits of the QMS project for residents and the City of Tshwane

Prioritisation of the elderly and people with disabilities: Waiting times have been reduced, especially for vulnerable groups. This in turn has contributed to the achievement of the Batho Pele principles.

Standardisation of waiting times: The QMS enables standardisation of customers’ waiting time and professional management of transfers between queues, based on the priority of customers, for example customers who had arrived first but who had to transact at more than one counter.

Dissemination of information to customers: Through digital signage, customers gain additional information about the City and its projects or plans while waiting to be served.

Improved communication between the City and its customers: Service feedback by customers is improved by the provision of electronic feedback machines. The system also provides an after-service customer feedback function through which customers provide feedback on the service they received from the consultant and on the City’s overall service.

From a manual to an electronic solution: Efficiency has improved significantly due to the use of the system. Actual frontline staff efficiency is based on staff availability at their desks minus breaks, and this can easily be calculated by using the QMS. Senior consultants are now able to assign resources where they are needed. They have an overview of all walk-in centres in the regions and the ability to drill down to the individual centre or employee.

Performance management of staff: Customer feedback can be linked to individual employees, together with evidence, to motivate employees and to ensure consistent high performance, which can be linked to departmental rewards and recognition initiatives.

Accurate reporting: Management can monitor the daily work activities and outputs of consultants through employee utilisation reports and manage the performance of individual employees and their teams. The QMS provides an oversight of the flow of foot traffic through the walk-in centres. The customer traffic dashboard provides management with relevant information to enable better forecasting and planning. During peak times for meter readings, supervisors can dedicate specific counters to handle meter readings only. This type of functionality is possible for all services offered.

Top management opinion of the system

The demand for improved service delivery requires that departments and institutions within local government operate in an entirely different manner, based on a resident-centric, proactive and customised approach, thereby ensuring that a municipality is accessible at a convenient location. Employees also play an important role in delivering services and may influence the degree of customer relations management of a service organisation.

With its QMS, the City of Tshwane has assisted Tshwane residents to experience a much-improved service, particularly the elderly and people with disabilities. The QMS also enables the CRM management team and walk-in centre teams to enhance their operations in order to deliver services in an effective and efficient manner.

The QMS also assists the City to obtain data on customer engagement, which results in effective decision-making.

Conclusion

The system is a great tool for management and it has advanced the efficiency, professionalism and time management of the walk-in centres management, which is beneficial for both customers and employees. The measurements of service norms and standards is simulated across all the centres and the data based evidence is helping management to improve operations while allocating resources to more needed queues as per the centre requirements. All consultants are knowledgeable and confidently use the system and supervisors are now able to monitor employee’s performance and identify the need for coaching or training where necessary.

There is improved confidence in the city from the customers/citizens perspective, they are able to effectively use the system and are starting to believe in the city’s processes. This has eliminated the customers’ frustration and misunderstanding with service consultants.

Sharing of relevant information has improved through the screens in our centres and this has led to less queries, and customers remain educated and informed.

When used effectively, the system has many beneficially functionalities and it can lead to improved customer experience and business processes.