As you may have already guessed, here at Face for Business we are incredibly passionate about answering the calls and queries of customers across a whole range of business sectors; we believe that customer service is key to a successful business.

This got us thinking about how call answering affects larger organisations such as local authorities, responsible for addressing the queries of an entire area.

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Following a Freedom of Information request, we have been informed that, during the last financial year (April 2012 to March 2013), Preston City Council spent a staggering £670,504 on salary costs for their Call Centre. So far, between April and October 2013 they have spent £381,502 on wages for call centre staff.

In addition, Preston City Council told us that they currently use a Siemens PBX phone system with the HiPath Pro Centre contact centre solution, at a total cost per annum of £23,327.

To put this into context, the City of Preston district has an overall population of 132,000. In a recent report from the Money Advice Service, it has been revealed that Preston has a disproportionately high percentage of over-indebted residents.

27% of the population of Preston is in currently in debt, compared to the national average of 18%. This means that a high number of people in Preston are struggling to pay their bills, and may therefore need to contact Preston City Council for advice and assistance.

During the last financial year, Preston Council’s Welfare Benefit Information Centre handled over 11,000 enquiries. This is just one of 15 telephone services provided by Preston City Council, which also includes an emergency out of hours service.

The ability to answer calls and queries is integral to almost any organisation. As with Preston City Council’s emergency out of hours service, businesses need to adapt to their customers’ needs and schedules, rather than the other way around. But what about during the Christmas shut-down? We’ll be exploring that question in more detail on the FFB blog very soon, so stay tuned!