The newly-opened Emfuleni Customer Care Call Centre will be one of the main weapons introduced by the new leadership in the Emfuleni Local Municipality in its battle to stabilise its finances and boost the delivery of services.
Launching the Centre in June, Executive Mayor, Councillor Mahole Simon Mofokeng said: “As Emfuleni we only receive 10% grants money from both the province and national government the rest of the money must collected by you the officials working here in the Call Centre. Please treat our residents - the customers - with dignity, professionalism and respect.”
The Centre is part of the ELM’s strategic theme of “Getting the Basics Right; Our Programme For Restoration, which was introduced when the Executive Mayor and his new team were introduced last November.
Private property and the business owners are encouraged to visit the Customer Care Call Centre, which is operating from Monday to Friday during office hours, for their rates and taxes-related inquiries. It is a partnership with private company MBD, and hopes to be a grief reliever for the taxpayers and a stirring wheel for service delivery.
The Executive Mayor said in order to provide services to the people, stabilising the Municipality’s financial position was identified as a priority and to do so challenges with revenue had to be attended to.
Executive Mayor Mofokeng also acknowledged that several problems, ranging from poor revenue collection to billing related issues, corruptions and maladministration, were challenges the Municipality had to tackle. The call centre will thus help to sort these challenges out, he stressed.
The Centre was also adding to job creation and skills transfer in the area. Nicolette Mathe is among 40 local residents who are undergoing call centre agent in-training.
“I would like to commend the Mayor for bringing this project to Emfuleni because this will also help to explain to residents how the Municipality works and why it is important for them to pay their rates and taxes,” she said. More personnel, especially young people, will be recruited as the call centre needs 60 agents to run optimally, the Executive Mayor said.
The Executive Mayor then tested the system by making a phone call to one the households which was behind on its municipal payment, reminding the owner to come forward to make arrangements for the payment of the overdue account.
Call centre agents will handle the inbound and outbound calls, the mayor explained.
The Inbound calls will provide a link between the Municipality and its customers-logging and resolving queries. It will further ensure that the Municipality has safe and secure facilities where customers can make payments.
Mayor Mofokeng led the Councillors and officials in cutting the ribbon to mark the official opening of the Call Centre.The Executive Mayor later told a mediabriefing that the municipality intendsto have mobile offices to reach to all Emfuleni residents.
The outbound call centre will focus on debt collection, activation of new payers, and identification of new customers, cleaning up of the debtor’s book and generally improving the municipality’s revenue collection capabilities.
The call centre agents will use a variety of methods to ensure revenue collections such as sending out SMSes, letters and emails.
“We need the money to ensure municipal work continues and the majority of our projects and work must be funded from our own revenue,” Mofokeng said.
The launch was attended by many dignitaries, including management from MBD, and members of Council.
By Thabiso Radebe & Engel Mokgobi