Churchill Ward Labour Councillors Shamim Talukder and Jason Williams have written to Jonathan Cowie, Chief Executive of CityWest Homes to call for an urgent review of CWH’s call centre.
Cllr Williams said: “We are getting continual reports of residents who can’t get through to the CityWest Homes call centre – and not getting an adequate response if they do make contact. From my own experience, what should have been a simple request has taken over two weeks and still hasn’t been resolved.”
In their letter they write: “When the call centre move was first mooted we were promised a more efficient service, with officers being freed up to go out and talk to residents and deal with problems effectively. The reality is that there has been a real diminution of service, leaving residents feeling cut off and neglected.
“Our concern is that vulnerable tenants will be especially affected – and the continued lack of response from the call centre may lead them to give up trying to contact CWH to request what could be urgent repairs.”
The Churchill Labour Councillors have asked Churchill Ward residents who have experienced similar issues with CityWest Homes to contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full letter:
CityWest Homes Customer Service
We are getting increasing reports of residents who have experienced poor customer service from CityWest Homes since the move to the centralised call centre.
One resident reported repairs needed for a window handle replacement, which she tells me it took seven weeks to organise, and a blocked bath, which she informs me took two weeks to resolve. When she had problems with her heating – which needed emergency repairs – she had to spent 10 minutes on the telephone; when there wasn’t a response to this, she called the emergency line and was cut off after being told she was 13th in the queue.
This is becoming an increasing occurrence with residents trying to contact the call centre – and if and when they do finally get through, they are not getting an adequate resolution to their issues.
One recent example from my own experience of trying to get an update for a resident needing repairs to her kitchen started with my initial email on 27th October when I was promised an update within five working days; when this response didn’t materialise I emailed again on 5th November asking for an urgent update. With no response I followed up again on 10th November and then received a reply promising me a response in a further five working days.
This situation is having an increasingly negative impact with residents feeling concerned that they can no longer get an adequate service from CityWest Homes. It gives the distinct impression that CityWest Homes are withdrawing from the estates and disinclined to proactively manage even the most basic maintenance requests.
When the call centre move was first mooted we were promised a more efficient service, with officers being freed up to go out and talk to residents and deal with problems effectively. The reality is that there has been a real diminution of service, leaving residents feeling cut off and neglected.
Our concern is that vulnerable tenants will be especially affected – and the continued lack of response from the call centre may lead them to give up trying to contact CityWest Homes to request what could be urgent repairs.
Over the summer we were told that issues with the call centre were due to impact of calls after the Grenfell disaster, and that more phone lines and staff were being introduced to improve the service. Despite this, some months on we have yet to see an improvement in service for residents.
At last week’s Full Council meeting the Leader claimed 58% of calls were being answered: we do not believe this is an acceptable level of support for residents.
Can we therefore ask that an urgent review of the call centre be undertaken by CityWest Homes senior management, that a plan be developed for improving the response times from CWH to residents, and that response times and other key data are regularly reported to monitor progress.