56,000 Housing NZ calls unanswered

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 08:35 21/06/2012

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New figures show more than 56,000 calls to Housing New Zealand's troubled new 0800 number went unanswered last month, an increase on the previous month.

Information provided by the corporation to the Labour Party shows the call centre answered 88,570 calls in May, up from 66,640 in April.

However, 39 per cent of the calls received, or 56,626, were abandoned by callers because they were not answered. That compares with 44 per cent, or 53,054 calls, in April.

The average waiting time for calls to be answered reduced from 8 minutes 44 seconds to 6 minutes 35 seconds.

Housing NZ changed the way it operated in April, closing its local office doors to all but scheduled appointments and directing all inquiries through an expanded call centre.

Labour's acting housing spokeswoman, Moana Mackey, said anecdotal evidence from tenants and community groups showed people were still waiting 20 to 25 minutes to have their calls answered.

"I've yet to meet a single person who has had their call answered in 6 minutes and 35 seconds."

Housing NZ transformation head Philippa Jones said all queue options were given the same priority.

"Giving callers options upfront means we can respond to their inquiry more appropriately."

The corporation was still going through a bedding-in period.

Improvements were being seen and the average waiting time was now five minutes.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley would not comment on the figures, saying they were an operational matter for the corporation.

Related stories:

Housing NZ grilled over cost blowout

Call centre woes force desperate moves

40-minute wait on Housing NZ calls

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- The Dominion Post

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