Over 100,000 calls not answered, lengthy call waiting times and high call abandonment rates common place when calling the Solicitors Regulation Authority.Information obtained by Lawyer Checker using the Freedom of Information Act confirms what many solicitors feel about the way in which the SRA manages its call volumes.
The longest time someone waited for the SRA to answer their phone line in 2013 was 1 hour 52 minutes, the average time to answer in the first quarter of 2013 was a staggering 12 minutes and 49 seconds. However, this did improve substantially each quarter to 1 minute 43 in the final quarter but even then one poor caller spent over 50 minutes holding before he or she was helped and nearly 7000 calls were never answered.
Principle 5 of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors that the SRA enforces requires regulated bodies to “Provide a proper standard of service to your clients”. The SRA might want to consider applying that principle to their service.
We understand the target service level is to answer 70% of calls within one minute however this seems a very soft target with many organisations trying to answer 80% of calls within 20 seconds.
Anthony Townsend commented in his Chief Executives report this week “Service levels in the Contact Centre continued to improve in December with 94% of call answered within sixty seconds compared to 38% during the summer months. Only 2% of calls are abandoned being compared to 28% during the summer…”
He went on to say “This shows clear evidence that the action the SRA has put in place to improve performance is working and is also testament to the hard work of the Contact Centre team. Our focus now will be on sustaining the improvement.”
Chris Harris of Lawyer Checker said “When the only way you can check if the other side is a firm of solicitors and is properly regulated an average waiting time in the final quarter of 2013 of 1 minute 43 seconds is a very long time when you are hanging on the phone waiting for help. Time is money to solicitors. Call waiting times of this length don’t help the profession manage risk.”