We have introduced a single telephone number – 0300 123 2224 – for all public enquiries.
This replaces ten 0845 numbers that we used previously, each associated with a different part of the Council’s work.
Although an increasing number of people want to contact us through our website or by email, we still have more than 250,000 people telephoning us with a wide range of enquiries.
Why have we made this change?
To make it easier and cheaper to contact us.
People no longer need to decide which 0845 number to call and the single number is easier to remember.
On average it will be cheaper for people to call us. Exact charges depend on people’s landline and mobile phone packages. However, calls to 0300 numbers will be charged at the same rate as calls to any number starting with 01 or 02. Also, anyone with free minutes as part of their landline or mobile call plan will automatically be able to call the new number for free (so long as they are still within their free minutes allocation), which was not always the case with the 0845 numbers.
The move is also in line with Cabinet Office guidance issued in 2013.
How will calls to the single number be answered?
Callers are asked to choose one of four options: Services for Children’, ‘Adult Social Care’, ‘Roads and Transport’ and ‘All other enquiries’. After that the experience is the same as before, which may include additional options, for example a safeguarding option if the call is to Children or Adults services.
The contact centre Somerset Direct has a good record of responding to calls quickly and has the same number of well-trained, experienced staff so there will be no change to the service.
All other services including support for Type Talk, email and SMS text are unaffected by the change.
How are you making sure the change goes smoothly?
We are publicising the 0300 123 2224 number and making sure it replaces the 0845 numbers everywhere that they appear. Some things we can change immediately, such as the numbers on the Council’s website. Others we will change in the coming months when materials are replaced or updated.
The 0845 numbers will continue to operate for a period of time alongside 0300 123 2224. Calls to the 0845 numbers are currently being automatically diverted into the 0300 number system, with a message highlighting the new number to the caller.
Are there any costs for the Council? Are the Council making any savings from this change?
Costs are minimal and within existing budgets. There are no savings, although customers, particularly those using mobile phones will, on average, pay less.