CIMM - Client Support Centre Call Backs - Dec 2, 2020
In 2019-2020, IRCC’s Client Support Centre received 4.3 million calls (2.7 million callers requested to talk to an agent). Given the demand for telephone support, wait times to speak to an agent at times exceeded 30 minutes.
To help improve the client experience of those who contact the Client Support Centre by telephone, IRCC began piloting call back functionality on April 17, 2019, and in December 2019, this service was made available to all clients.
Between April and December 2019, over 238.3K of callers (45%) chose to receive a call back instead of waiting on the line; when their place in the wait queue was reached, an agent called them using the telephone number they provided.
Call backs fully resumed as of November 9, 2020 after having been paused since March 19, 2020 due to COVID-19 and reduced capacity at the Client Support Centre. Clients are generally called within the same timeframe they would have waited in queue.
Client satisfaction with call backs is extremely high – over 99% of clients who used the service were very satisfied and said that they would continue to use it in the future.
Supporting facts and figures
Call back functionality was implemented in four phases over 2019:
The introduction of call backs has not had any negative operational impacts – there has been no increase in call duration (as a result of call backs) and the rate of incomplete call backs, where the client is not available when the agent calls them back, is low (less than 12.5%).
Client Support Centre agents have reported that the tone of calls with clients that have used call backs is more positive than those who have not; as clients appreciate the convenience of a call back instead of waiting to speak to an agent.
It is important to note that call back functionality is available for clients who ask to speak to an agent, and are able to reach the wait queue. If the wait queue is full, clients cannot request a call-back.
In May 2019, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada reported on Call Centres identified a need for departments to modernize and improve client service by offering new options, such as allowing clients to request a call back instead of waiting on hold.
To help improve immigration client services, Budget 2019 provided $43M to IRCC, over two years beginning in 2019-2020, for 365 additional FTEs over two years (157 FTEs in 2019-2020 (for a total of 489 FTEs) and 208 FTEs in 2020-2021 (for total of 486 FTEs) for Client Support Centre improvements. With this funding, the Department committed to: a 50% call answer rate by March 2021.
This two-year investment significantly increased the number of IRCC client support agents so that telephone enquiries could be responded to more quickly. With more agents, IRCC was able to continue to expand call backs to all clients.
The 2019 IRCC Client Satisfaction Evaluation Survey, which was conducted prior to COVID-19, found that 30% of callers to the Client Support Centre said they were able to reach an agent the first time (up from 22% in 2017). More importantly, the Survey found an increase in client satisfaction with their Client Support Centre experience – a 16% increase from 2018 to 2019 (up from 49% to 65%).