Fri. Oct 30th, 2020

The R350 coronavirus grant system has a pile of unanswered emails 300,000 deep – on top of 40,000 calls per day

2 min read

The support system behind South Africa’s special Covid-19 grant for unemployed people who receive no other state help has a backlog of some 300,000 emails, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says.

Meanwhile it continues to receive around 1,000 new emails per day – on top of up to 40,000 attempted phone calls – according to information it released to companies it hopes can help.

That avalanche is dealt with by a call centre with a staff count of 26, of which 14 are considered “frontline” staff who can deal with grant issues.

Under normal circumstances that call centre would deal with around 1,500 calls per day, Sassa says.

But the new R350-per month grant “has increased the pressure on the call centre as the number of calls and e-mail enquiries have increased exponentially. The current call centre is unable to cope with this increase which results in frustration for citizens, but is also causing serious reputational risk to Sassa and the Ministry of Social Development.”

It now wants an outsourced provider to set up a contact centre to deal with both the ongoing queries and the backlog.

That provider would be appointed on a six-month contact, even though the grants themselves, also known as Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grants, are due to end in October.

The new call centre operator would have to handle 90% of the calls that come in every day, and resolve 80% of them. It must likewise deal with 90% of incoming email and resolve 80% of those queries within five days. And it must be operational just a handful of days after it accepts the contact.

Within two months the email backlog must be cleared, Sassa says.

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