Search rightsnet
Search options

Where

Benefit

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction

From

to

Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Other benefit issues  →  Thread

You may wish to call back later

ROBBO
forum member

Welfare rights team - Stockport Advice

Send message

Total Posts: 317

Joined: 16 June 2010

Has anyone ever tracked down the elusive time of day when you can phone DWP and you don’t get a message explaining there’s currently high call volume and you may wish to call back later? 

I know it comes on at the stroke of 8am, and as far as I can tell, it stays there for the rest of the day.

Which begs the question - what’s the point of calling back later?  It will be just the same.

I know, I know.  It’s old news.  But what the hell.  I’m in the queue.

Daphne
Administrator

rightsnet writer / editor

Send message

Total Posts: 3166

Joined: 14 March 2014

I can ask at our next stakeholder meeting - I’ll let you know the response ;)

Mike Hughes
forum member

Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

Send message

Total Posts: 2736

Joined: 17 June 2010

As a follow up to that I wonder whether any work is ever done to clock the nature of calls beyond the “we may record your call for training purposes” and either reduce the call volumes or increase the call handlers? How many years is excess call volume acceptable when you’re asking people with limited credit on PAYG mobiles to hold?

Can we also raise with stakeholders the idea of people being able to select their own hold music?

Octopus Energy do this. I selected my music and forgot about it. Had a weekend brain fart and input the wrong meter reading so finally had cause to ring them. Was mightily annoyed when they put me on hold and all fell silent. Thought I’d been disconnected. Then I remembered I had selected “4:33” by John Cage 😊 Oops.

Daphne
Administrator

rightsnet writer / editor

Send message

Total Posts: 3166

Joined: 14 March 2014

This is the response I have had via stakeholder forum -

The best time to ring would usually be between 10-12 and 2-4, with Monday being our busiest day. For information, we regularly review our resources both internally and with our telephony suppliers to ensure we meet customer demand across all services of contact including our phone lines, our service partners are currently recruiting additional staff to answer customer enquiries.  Whilst demand fluctuates, this recruitment has supported so far this month our aim to keep average wait times under ten minutes, adequate for the freephone services available for all DWP customers. 

The Actual Average Speed of Answer (Call Waiting) for Universal Credit April to September 2021 is as follows:
(mm:ss)

April: 12:28
May: 10:43
June: 04:00
July: 04:57
August: 07:05
September: 11:38

Average Speed of Answer measures the average customer wait time from the point of entering a queue to connection to an agent. This excludes any time spent in pre-queue messaging and any wait time for calls ultimately abandoned by callers.
Please note that the data in the above tables is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution

Paul Stockton
forum member

Epping Forest CAB

Send message

Total Posts: 169

Joined: 6 May 2014

Daphne - 10 November 2021 09:37 AM

This is the response I have had via stakeholder forum -

The best time to ring would usually be between 10-12 and 2-4, with Monday being our busiest day. For information, we regularly review our resources both internally and with our telephony suppliers to ensure we meet customer demand across all services of contact including our phone lines, our service partners are currently recruiting additional staff to answer customer enquiries.  Whilst demand fluctuates, this recruitment has supported so far this month our aim to keep average wait times under ten minutes, adequate for the freephone services available for all DWP customers. 

The Actual Average Speed of Answer (Call Waiting) for Universal Credit April to September 2021 is as follows:
(mm:ss)

April: 12:28
May: 10:43
June: 04:00
July: 04:57
August: 07:05
September: 11:38

Average Speed of Answer measures the average customer wait time from the point of entering a queue to connection to an agent. This excludes any time spent in pre-queue messaging and any wait time for calls ultimately abandoned by callers.
Please note that the data in the above tables is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution

So what I would take away from this is;

(1) average waiting times have steadily deteriorated since the beginning of June;
(2) the preferred solution is recruitment of call handlers by telephony companies, not putting DWP officials, who might conceivably have been trained properly on UC, on the helpline. The technical term for these luckless recruits is “flak-catchers”.
(3) callers who give up aren’t counted in the figures.
(4) the figures may not be reliable anyway.

In my view average waiting time is the wrong type of measure for this kind of service anyway. It conceals how long some - possibly many - people have to wait. What they should have is a target maximum waiting time, coupled with a percentage figure for what proportion of callers get to speak to someone within that target eg “90% of calls to be answered within 5 minutes.”

Daphne
Administrator

rightsnet writer / editor

Send message

Total Posts: 3166

Joined: 14 March 2014

And in today’s story - https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/pcs-parliamentary-group-calls-for-dwp-telephony-services-to-be-brought-back-in-house - apparently DWP staff had to help out Serco as it couldn’t cope!

WR Adviser
forum member

Welfare rights worker - Community Law Service, Northampton

Send message

Total Posts: 81

Joined: 22 June 2010

In my experience (recently) the UC Helpline is answered quite quickly, but I am regularly cut off after 30 seconds or so (3 times in a row last Friday afternoon….)  Having just waited 42 minutes for ESA to answer, and PIP taking a similar time us advisers are spending an outrageous amount of time hanging around for the phones to the DWP to be answered!  And I can only assume PIP have recruited new staff, they seem to have no knowledge of implicit consent at all so long waits for a call to be answered is often now resulting in the query not being dealt with even when they do answer.  Most frustrating all round!!  Most of my clients seem to be able to access the DWP numbers for free on their mobiles now thankfully, but many just can’t cope with the long waits so fail to get through independently.

ROBBO
forum member

Welfare rights team - Stockport Advice

Send message

Total Posts: 317

Joined: 16 June 2010

Thanks Daphne. 

I assume contact centre staff don’t all got out to lunch together between 12 and 2, but it’s a nice image.  Perhaps a packed lunch in the park.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
forum member

Information and advice resources - Age UK

Send message

Total Posts: 2712

Joined: 7 January 2016

Daphne - 10 November 2021 09:37 AM

This is the response I have had via stakeholder forum -

The best time to ring would usually be between 10-12 and 2-4, with Monday being our busiest day. For information, we regularly review our resources both internally and with our telephony suppliers to ensure we meet customer demand across all services of contact including our phone lines, our service partners are currently recruiting additional staff to answer customer enquiries.  Whilst demand fluctuates, this recruitment has supported so far this month our aim to keep average wait times under ten minutes, adequate for the freephone services available for all DWP customers. 

The Actual Average Speed of Answer (Call Waiting) for Universal Credit April to September 2021 is as follows:
(mm:ss)

April: 12:28
May: 10:43
June: 04:00
July: 04:57
August: 07:05
September: 11:38

Average Speed of Answer measures the average customer wait time from the point of entering a queue to connection to an agent. This excludes any time spent in pre-queue messaging and any wait time for calls ultimately abandoned by callers.
Please note that the data in the above tables is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution

This bit is very convenient in bringing down average waiting times:

Average Speed of Answer measures the average customer wait time from the point of entering a queue to connection to an agent. This excludes any time spent in pre-queue messaging and any wait time for calls ultimately abandoned by callers.

Benny Fitzpatrick
forum member

Welfare Rights Officer, Southway Housing Trust, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 582

Joined: 2 June 2015

I have to say that the waiting times they quote don’t mirror my experience, or that of my clients.

Mairi
forum member

Welfare rights officer - Dunedin Canmore Housing Association

Send message

Total Posts: 245

Joined: 25 June 2010

On the positive side, I was able in one hour (before 10 am) a couple of months ago to speak to 3 different DWP advisers - a mix of ESA and PIP.  Issue not resolved yet but that’s another matter.

On the negative side, as usual someone is getting through much faster than me on multiple occasions to bring the average wait time down.  If I get through within 40 minutes of dialling the number I think I’m doing well.  Where I used to work (many moons ago) I could have driven to the local benefit office, seen someone and got back to the office in about that time.

It’s interesting that the message Daphne has been given confirms what I’ve long suspected - that the wait time is measured from the end of all the recorded messages, ‘please give us your bank details / mother’s maiden name / inside leg measurement’.  Those messages seem to have got longer and longer over the years with no real purpose as it’s clear that the adviser you eventually get through to has no idea of any of the information you’ve given.

I think my longest recent wait time has been 70 minutes to get through to PIP.

Benny Fitzpatrick
forum member

Welfare Rights Officer, Southway Housing Trust, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 582

Joined: 2 June 2015

Unfortunately, across the spectrum of business, from DWP to energy providers, banking and broadband, real customer service has been replaced by lip service. We will all be familiar with interminable waits (often on premium rate phonelines), listening to vacuous, self-congratulatory messages (which prolong the call and hike the cost to the customer) and seemingly endless menus of options, when actually, all we want to do is speak to someone who can help. The long and short is, of course, that such “customer service” models are actually designed to prevent or impede efficient communication (eg: SSE’s “contact us” page, which contains no contact details whatsoever, and merely returns one to the main menu), and that these companies/departments actually view talking to customers as an inconvenience.

The DWP were pioneers of, and are still masters of, this approach. And I see no intention on their part to change anything. The fact that the outsourced staff are inadequately trained and ignorant of the Law says it all. There is no intention to be helpful, merely to fob off.

Gareth Morgan
forum member

CEO, Ferret, Cardiff

Send message

Total Posts: 1851

Joined: 16 June 2010

Daphne - 10 November 2021 09:37 AM

This is the response I have had via stakeholder forum -

Out of curiosity. do they have separate figures for the Welsh language lines?  I always use those on the assumption that the wait will be shorter and the operator more helpful.

Daphne
Administrator

rightsnet writer / editor

Send message

Total Posts: 3166

Joined: 14 March 2014

I could ask if you like? Would it be helpful or is it just curiosity?

Gareth Morgan
forum member

CEO, Ferret, Cardiff

Send message

Total Posts: 1851

Joined: 16 June 2010

Daphne - 15 November 2021 03:43 PM

I could ask if you like? Would it be helpful or is it just curiosity?

Just curiosity.  Don’t ask, they might downgrade the Welsh line if it’s providing better times.

JP 007
forum member

Welfare rights - Dundee City Council

Send message

Total Posts: 84

Joined: 2 February 2012

PIP helpline has a barrage of options, voice recognition request for personal details, long delays, no more Vivaldi etc. Upon calling today because my Client went mad waiting I chose an option for disputing a decision and when I spoke to someone I was advised that client would have to be with me for any information was to be given, I explained implicit consent and he still refused so I asked for his supervisor. I was put on hold again (different hold music [sic] ) and then he came back and told me I wasn’t the registered rep and they don’t do implicit consent in this department. He then put me back to the advice line! 0800 121 4433 was the number I called but beware the option minefield as the total time came in at 45 mins.or more I was past caring when I eventually got my simple question answered by a very helpful chap in Bootle.