Feedback report from the MMC of Corporate Service to residents about the City’s customer service:

It will take the DA months to fix what the ANC broke down over years

1. When the DA coalition took over the City of Tshwane in August of this year we found call centres in disarray. Systems were disjoined. Software licenses had expired. Staff were poorly motivated and ill-disciplined. These problems were not unique to the call centres, but reflected a wider institutional breakdown of the municipality. The DA is yet to expose the full extent of our inheritance from our ANC predecessors – perhaps because we are spending most of our time attending to these problems, we neglect to communicate what we are doing.

2. After about 9 weeks in power, many DA supporters expected these problems to have been resolved. Unfortunately turning around an entire organisation and reorienting a service culture is not like flipping a switch. There is no faking it until you make it. As I explain to my colleagues and members of the public: what was broken down over a number of years, will take months to fix.

3. We have started acting against lax call centre consultants, implementing a new telephony system and integrating the processes and software on which the call centres run. In two of the three call centres these interventions have already lead to increased productivity.

4. But when the rain season hit the City a few weeks ago, an already fragile customer care system was pushed to its limits. As Tshwane’s creaking electricity infrastructure was knocked out, the City’s call centres as well as email and SMS services were inundated to the point of crashing. And every time these services crash, the City’s Customer Relations Management department has to work through a new backlog.

5. So are the call centres not functioning as they should? Of course they aren’t, and we are working night and day to fix them. We are also uncovering corruption, cleaning up the City’s tender processes, stopping luxury spending and putting poor performing senior managers on terms. Are the call centres the only reason residents do not receive the service responses and feedback that they deserve? No. The call centres are to a large extent a window into the rest of the municipality: they show us just how badly service infrastructure was left to deteriorate; how repairs and maintenance and filling critical vacancies were simply not a budget priority for our ANC predecessors. If you voted for change, you better believe how badly change was needed in this city.

6. People hold DA governments to a higher standard, and with good reason. In the City of Cape Town DA government has delivered excellent services, pristine infrastructure and intelligent and responsive customer care. But like the DA didn’t achieve these high standards within weeks of taking control of Cape Town in 2006, so the DA needs time and support to rebuild the City of Tshwane in 2016.

7. This process will be frustrating. Residents who expected instant change will be disappointed. Folks who have to sit in the dark, or without water, for no good reason will be livid. But ultimately the changes we are making, step-by-step, will be sound and certain. Unlike under the previous ANC City government, the plaster won’t fall off within the first year; the paint won’t peel off after the first wash. Our change will be lasting. In the meantime I beg residents for their patience. I will also beef up assistance to our councillors so that they are better able to respond to residents’ queries.

With best wishes,

Cilliers Brink
MMC for Corporate & Shared Services