Government agencies must overcome fear of redundancies and quit inter-departmental rivalry if they are to reap the benefits of call centre technology, warns a forthcoming report.
According to Call Centres in the Public Sector, by market researcher Kable, government agencies are wasting u40 million a year by not operating call centres to handle enquiries from the public.
However, the public sector is slowly recognising the benefits of call centres with spend due to top #180 million by 2000 - more than double the investment this year. "IT infrastructure will be a critical part of this and spend on IT will reach #36 million a year by the millennium," the report adds.
Paul Smith, Kable's research manager, said IT was a relatively small fraction of the cost of creating a call centre. At 20% of the overall investment, the IT element could avoid going out to tender under the controversial Private Finance Initiative, he added.
"The investment needed in IT is relatively low (when setting up call centres) because much of the data is already there. A supplier could use its skills to integrate that data into the call centre without having to change the IT infrastructure. People could try to move on from where they are at present," explained Smith.
Government agencies that could benefit from call centre technology include social security departments; it could also be used to co-ordinate medical appointments.
Smith said: "The government wants to offer one central number, but what is happening is the complete opposite. Departments are taking a piecemeal approach. There are different agencies handling different enquiries and geographic areas, where there should be a central department. People are being passed from pillar to post with their enquiries."
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