Ah, Centrelink. The website doesn’t work, the employees are rude, the debt notices don’t make sense and the call centre will put you on hold for three hours then accidentally hang up. On that last point, at least, things are set to at least improve: the government has promised to hire 1, 000 additional call centre operators to ease those hectic wait times.
Federal Human Services Minister Michael Keenan told the ABC that the government is aware of Centrelink’s customer service inadequacies.
“We want to make sure that when you deal with the Government you get the best possible service,” he said.
“We know the service that people have been receiving isn’t satisfactory and we’ve been doing things to address that.”
As is usual for Centrelink, the government will be outsourcing its call centre to private firm Serco. But the operators will all still be based in Australia, and Keenan assured the ABC that Centrelink client data would be kept safe and private.
He indicated that in future Centrelink’s website would be good enough that call centres become unnecessary—we won’t hold our breath.
“Over time I hope that our digital channels will get a lot better so people will go online, we are investing heavily to make that happen... But in the meantime we are putting this very big investment into extra call centre capacity and people calling in will notice a far better experience,” he said.
The new contract will reportedly cost the government $200 million.