Michelle and her colleagues in the Contact Centre are the first point of contact for members of the public to get in touch with the council regarding any services.
Whilst Michelle’s primary role is within the Community Access Team (CAT), the first point of contact for Children’s and Adult Social Work, she also handles calls for several other services such as Waste Services, Environment, Switchboard and Payments.
She now has a wider role both taking inbound calls and making calls to support people affected by the pandemic.
As the Contact Centre plays such a crucial role within the council, the outbreak of Covid-19 meant that Michelle and her colleagues had to adapt quickly to new ways of working, whilst maintaining high standards of service that an increasing number of people were going to rely on.
Michelle explains it has been essential “to ensure that we are still available to handle calls and make sure that we are keeping up to date with the continuing changes which are happening both for ourselves and the departments we work for.”
As the country moved from social distancing towards lockdown, the Contact Centre had to adapt their working practices quickly.
Michelle says: “After it was announced that we had to prioritise and focus on keeping our vulnerable citizens safe (whilst simultaneously keeping safe ourselves) we knew that things were going to have to change.”
Initially Michelle and her colleagues moved into another area of the office so everyone could remain at a safe distance from each other. They then were supplied with laptops so they could work from home. In order to do this they had to establish a process to handle the shielding calls and calls for assistance from vulnerable customers affected by Covid 19.
Michelle knows that great teamwork has been key to facing the challenges Covid 19 has presented:
“We work as one team in the Contact Centre using each other’s experience and knowledge. The shielding work was quite intense and many of us worked evenings and weekends in order to get it done as quickly as possible.”
Now, the majority of the Contact Centre staff are working from home and the Telecare Call and CCTV monitoring service continues to operate 24/7. Staff from Social Work and Community Housing as well Libraries and Customer Services and the Museums Service, have also been making calls to people who are shielding and ongoing check in calls on people who have requested them.
Michelle takes pride in being able to keep the service going as normal. She praises the cross department team work that has taken place and says: “To call out and reach over 3,300 customers who are shielding makes you feel like you are making a difference. The customers that I have spoken with were so grateful, if only for a call to check in and make sure that they were ok. Sometimes just being that voice at the end of a phone is reassurance that they are not alone.”