Expatica news

Civil servants ‘give shoddy service’

17 February 2005

BRUSSELS – Phoning a civil servant in Belgium is indeed frustrating, according to a government survey.

On Thursday, La Derniere Heure reported that civil service minister Christian Dupont had decided to commission a test of the service at the unemployment benefit centre CAPAC.

Investigators made 760 calls to its 34 offices which handle the dole payments of 120,000 non-unionised job hunters.

They found the staff failed to answer more than half the calls satisfactorily.

In 55 percent of the cases, the callers couldn’t get through to a CAPAC worker, with two-thirds ringing in vain more than 20 times, and very rarely getting even an answer machine.

The rest got the engaged tone.

The lucky callers who did get through to an operator (45 percent) often received bad service at the end of the line.

Only half the callers were answered by a worker who confirmed they had reached the CAPAC office.

And when it came to transferring a call onto the correct department, some 53 percent of the calls were not transferred correctly.

In Brussels, out of 124 test calls, only slightly more than a fifth were successful while 81 calls failed and 16 were picked up and then wrongly transferred.

Only Antwerp, Brussels and Liege thought it necessary to have a phone message when an office was closed, giving the opening hours.

The CAPAC offices differed in their opening hours and closing days.

When it comes to bad service, some regional offices proved worse than others in the survey.

Charleroi came bottom of the table, with just 5 percent of calls picked up within an acceptable time limit.

La Louviere, Liege and Tournai were also well below average in answering just a quarter of their calls promptly.

Eupen workers could set an example to the rest of their CAPAC colleagues, answering 90 percent of their calls in time.

The busier an office, the more difficult it proved to get through.

Offices which had fewer than 2500 unemployed workers using their services answered 71 percent of calls in time, compared to a 43 percent success rate for up to 5,000 customers and 35 percent in the case of bigger offices like in Brussels.

Interestingly, the days of the week or the time of the month had little effect on the quality of service that the testers received.

However, they did discover the advantages of calling later in the afternoon – before 4pm, but not before 12-1pm when only 17 percent of calls got a prompt response.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news