Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

Media release: Centrelink call experience improving

21 February 2019

The Hon Michael Keenan MP

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

Today’s Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report confirms the Department of Human Services (DHS) is improving Centrelink’s call centre operations.

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said the Coalition Government inherited a huge mess from Labor in 2013. In fact, the ANAO’s last report into Centrelink’s call centres in 2014/15 stated that call wait times had “deteriorated significantly” under Labor’s watch.

W
hen John Howard left office in 2007, call wait times were just 90 seconds. That figure blew out to over 16 minutes at the end of Rudd/Gillard/Rudd regime. The main cause was Labor’s decision to slash 4884 jobs from DHS during its final term in office.

“I am pleased to say that in the last six months alone, call wait times have dropped by 45 seconds to an average of 15 minutes and 15 seconds, which shows that we are heading in the right direction,” Minister Keenan said.

“The improvement is due to a range of factors including a major overhaul of our call centre operations and the recent injection of an additional 2750 call centre staff.

“We are already seeing the results of that investment. For instance, the wait time on our employment lines has dropped by 11 minutes. There has also been a four-minute reduction on our families line.

“At the same time, busy signals have dropped by 42 per cent and there has been a 28 per cent reduction in call transfers – a major source of customer frustration.

“These are significant results and demonstrate our strong commitment to improving the customer experience for the millions of Australians who rely on Centrelink’s services.”

In its latest report, the ANAO acknowledged the work undertaken by DHS to implement the recommendations from its 2014/15 report and work is underway on the two new recommendations. These include improving oversight of the department’s Channel Strategy to support digital service delivery and finalising the review of telephony key performance indicators.

“We agree with the ANAO’s recommendation that call performance reporting should provide better insights into the customer experience,” Minister Keenan said.

“In fact, a post-call survey introduced last year shows 80 per cent of customers have their query answered during the call and are happy with the quality of support they received.

“This survey provides us with valuable customer insights and helps us strike the right balance between productivity and quality, in line with industry best practice.

“I thank the ANAO for its work and feedback, which will further improve the way Centrelink call centres operate.”

Page last updated: 21 February 2019