Address to Public Liaison and Call Centre Staff on First Day of Presidential Hotline
I am pleased to meet you today, on this historic occasion as we launch the call centre to staff in the Presidency, from national departments and provinces.
I have just visited the call centre and I am impressed with the set up and I am convinced that we will be ready to start today with the first calls.
I announced the Hotline number yesterday at a rally in Matatiele, and the response was overwhelming. The expectations are very high.
I decided to meet with you directly as public liaison officers because you are very important. You are the face of government. We are dependent on you to communicate with the public on our behalf; you are the eyes and ears of government. You should therefore take your work very seriously.
Government has always communicated with the public before, including through izimbizo. We are now taking that interaction a step further, through ensuring that there is two way communication. We want people to be able to tell us what their problems are with service delivery, so that we can assist directly.
This means that you have a challenging job. You may receive calls from very angry people, who would have been provoked by your colleagues from other departments. Remain calm, patient and be humane and human. You will solve a lot of problems if you remain human and avoid being technical. If a person calls about an unpaid pension, do not say "I do not work for Social Development". They will say there is no water, there is no electricity, and be ready to deal with all of that efficiently and professionally. It is a service delivery hotline so expect all those types of questions. Once this system begins to work efficiently, the volume of calls will go down as government should by then be more responsive, departments will have learnt the importance of responding quickly.
Let me emphasise that we depend on you to improve government's image. You must help us take away the stigma from government. All over the world, government has a negative image. When you are given two loaves of bread from the same bakery and someone says to you one is from government and the other from the private sector, which one would you take? Let us work hard together to eradicate that stigma that makes people think anything from government is bad or is of inferior quality.
I hope to be able to visit provincial call centres as well very soon to see how they work. I am pleased that public liaison officers from provinces were also able to join us, so that they can all hear how we view their work, and the expected outcomes.
Let me reiterate that you are the frontline of government communications and citizen care and support. Smile when you take those calls as people can feel your mood wherever they are. Your attitude will speak volumes. Remember we are doing this to improve government service delivery, and you are in the forefront of that campaign.
Let me not keep you too long as we must go and receive the first calls.
I thank you.