Random Analytica: Centrelink Call Wait Times 2006 – 2017

by Shane Granger

It seems almost heretical now but just a decade ago you could call Centrelink and get your phone answered in less than 2 ½-minutes (*most of the time). In fact, data collected by Centrelink in 2006-2007 showed that the average wait time of callers was just 1-minute and 50-seconds and that 71.6% of all calls were answered in the first 150-seconds.

Then something happened in 2008 to the way Centrelink reported its data.

Centrelink felt that it was so good at answering your calls within a few minutes it abandoned its Average Speed of Answer (ASA) reporting metric and amended its Call Answered from 150-second to 180-seconds.

For those too young to remember back in 2007 the iPhone only came on the scene in June 2007, so most people would call a government department via a landline (sometimes sneakily from work) or go to visit the relevant Government department and talk to a real person in their lunch-hour or on their day-off, especially if they worked part-time.

How did that work out for Centrelink?

ASA

The funky Calls Answered in 180-seconds metric was abandoned just one year after it was implemented and the Department of Human Services completely abandoned the 150-seconds metric from 2010/11. I suspect when more than 50% of calls don’t get answered within that timeframe you either need to review your service model OR you change your metric.

In the meantime the Average Speed of Answer (ASA) wait time blew-out from 1-minute and 50-seconds in 2007 to 15-minutes and 44-seconds in 2017. That’s an official 8.5x increase!

I’m sceptical about the Department answering a call within 16-minutes.

I had to ring Centrelink today. Everyone I talked too who has to deal with the Department told me to ring early but be prepared to wait a long-time.

I rang early (8.05am) and I was prepared to wait putting aside contract work for the express purpose of updating my details.

My call was answered an hour later (plenty of time to do the above chart)…

Phone

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