Shropshire Council

Customer service centre opening hours

  • Period: 13 March 2023 - 23 April 2023
  • Status: Closed
  • Audiences: Everyone
  • Topics: Customer services
  • Type: Public

What is this consultation about?

Shropshire Council’s customer service centre handles telephone and other forms of contact from our customers for around 50 different council services. It's currently open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

Some parts of our customer service centre handle complex issues for Shropshire’s residents, things like adult social care, concerns for children, risk of homelessness or financial crises affecting families, and these types of contact from people will always need a skilled adviser and a telephone call to resolve them, but many other calls, to the more 'generalist' side, are for relatively simple things that could be done another way, particularly using online requests.

Since we last looked at these opening hours, the council’s website offer has developed considerably, meaning that many people are now able to make simpler requests for council services at any time of the day or night, regardless of office hours.

We know also that making such requests online is a far more cost-effective way for us as a council to do things – it costs around £2.83 to handle a phone call, but an online transaction might cost just 15p, so doing more this way is much better for us as a council, especially when finances are difficult.  

However we fully recognise that not everyone is able to go online, and that sometimes there's a need to speak to someone anyway for things to be able to progress, so this isn't a consultation about closing our customer service centre; it's about us trying to balance the hours that we need to be open to help people with these 'generalist' calls, with encouraging our customers to do more online so that we're handling service requests as efficiently as possible.

And there's one other advantage to encouraging more of our customers to do business with us online – it frees up time for our skilled advisers to concentrate on important preventative work for Shropshire residents and households who may be in need of additional support.

Throughout the difficulties of the Covid pandemic and its aftermath, and now into the cost of living crisis, the customer service centre has made tens of thousands of calls to Shropshire’s residents to check that they're coping, that they're safe and either getting the help they need or know how and where to find it. This is work we'd like to do more of, and considering the availability of better online services we now seek to reduce the opening times of the customer services centre to free up staff time to concentrate on this important work.   

The table below shows how the level of calls to these general service lines over the last four years.

Year ended

April 2018

April 2019

April 2020

April 2021

April 2022

Number of calls






What do you need to do?

This document explains different options for new opening times for our generalist services together with the potential advantages and disadvantages of each, and we're inviting you to give us your views on these options. Please note that no formal decision has been made at this stage. The information we receive through this consultation will be used to inform the decision on our future opening times.

Please complete the very short consultation form. You'll find it on the 'How to get involved' tab on this page.

The potential impact of any changes on our customers has been assessed by completing an equality, social inclusion and health impact assessment. This is something that we complete to show that we've been fair when looking at the needs of customers, especially those who might be affected more by any changes.  

You may find the information in our frequently asked questions section on this page useful.

What are we proposing?

We're proposing changes to the times during which Customer Service Centre will take generalist calls from customers. The different options and the advantages and disadvantages of each are laid out below. 

Is there a recommendation or a preferred proposal?

Yes, we do have a preferred option and this is based on what we know about the pattern of phone calls we receive throughout the day, together with how much staff time we could free up in return for shorter opening hours so that we can make more outbound calls to people with support needs.

Our preferred proposal would be for our generalist lines to be open from 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

This is based on the fact that these opening times:

  • Are regular and recognisable each day and therefore easier to remember
  • Cover the majority of the working day and the most popular times when we know we receive most of our calls
  • Still represent around 55% of our current opening hours, meaning that we can still help anyone who isn't able to do business online
  • Would free up around 100 hours per week for our advisers to do preventative work for people with support needs

The survey questionnaire asks for your agreement, comments or otherwise on the different proposals, or if you wish to make any alternative suggestions. 

The options to consider are listed below.

Option 1 

Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm, closed Saturdays. Total opening hours per week: 30 (55.5% of current opening times) 


  • Uniform opening times more easily recognised by residents
  • Few calls are received before 9am therefore minimal disruption to calls in the morning
  • These opening times release up to 11 staff for two hours Monday to Thursday, plus ten staff for two hours on Friday, theoretically up to 108 staff hours to dedicate to preventative outbound calls in the afternoons


  • Still relatively high numbers of calls currently received between 3pm and 5pm before they tail off, we would expect there to be a period of adjustment for residents during this adjustment where waiting times will be longer
  • Doesn't address the higher call numbers at the start of a week, again a period of adjustment for residents
  • No outbound calls envisaged prior to 9am   

Option 2 

Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm, closed Saturdays. Total opening hours per week: 30 (55.5% of current opening times) 


  • Uniform opening times more easily recognised by residents
  • Releases up to 11 staff for one hour a day Monday to Thursday and ten staff for one hour on Friday, theoretically up to 54 staff hours to dedicate to preventative outbound calls – (afternoons only)


  • Disruption to relatively high call numbers between 9am and 10am, risk that these calls may then present at 10am leading to long wait times in the morning
  • Possible disruption for residents over a period of adjustment
  • May be possible to make outbound calls prior to 10am but success rate and effectiveness is questionable
  • Far fewer staff hours available each week to make preventative outbound calls

Option 3 

Monday and Tuesday 9am to 3.30pm, Wednesday and Thursday 9am to 3pm, Friday 10am to 3pm. Total opening hours per week: 30 (55.5% of current opening times) 


  • Slightly longer opening times Monday and Tuesday attempt to address higher call levels earlier in the week
  • Releases up to 11 staff for 1.5 hours Monday and Tuesday, 11 staff for two hours Wednesday and Thursday, and ten staff for two hours on Fridays, theoretically 97 hours a week to dedicate to preventative outbound calls 


  • Opening times may not be easy for residents to remember
  • Still some possible disruption to calls attempted after 3/3:30pm meaning a period of adjustment for residents  
  • Outbound calls prior to 10am on the Friday is possible but success rate and effectiveness is questionable 

Option 4

Monday and Tuesday 9am to 5pm, Wednesday to Friday 9am to 3pm. Total opening hours: 34 (63% of current opening hours) 


  • Longer opening times on Monday and Tuesday address attempt to higher call volumes at the start of the week
  • Minimal disruption to calls in the mornings 
  • Potentially easier opening pattern for residents to remember 
  • Releases up to 11 staff for two hours Wednesday and Thursday, and up to ten staff on Friday, theoretically 54 staff hours per week for outbound calls 


  • Still some possible disruption to calls attempted after 3pm Wednesday to Friday 
  • Far fewer staff hours available each week to make outbound preventative calls. Possible bias towards transactional calls over outbound wellbeing calls 
  • Only able to make outbound calls later in the week  

Frequently asked questions

These questions and answers offer more information on the above proposal.

What is being proposed?

We're proposing shorter opening times for part of our customer service centre, which would still remain open for a total of at least 30 hours across weekdays. These changes are for our more general service calls, and won't affect calls to adult and children’s social care services, or calls about homelessness or to the Local Welfare Support line. They will affect calls to more transactional services such as waste, registrars, parking, education etc, where many people could instead do business online via this website.

Why is Shropshire Council doing this?

It's some time since we last reviewed our opening times, and since then we've seen changes in the level of calls we receive at different times of the day. Also, more council services have now become available online and customer behaviours have changed accordingly, with many more people choosing to do business online.

We need as many people as possible to do business with us online because the costs are so much lower. This is very important at a time when budgets are difficult, but we also need to continue to offer a telephone service to our residents who aren't able to do things this way.

Also, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and now also during the cost of living crisis, we believe we should be more proactive, reaching out to Shropshire residents who might be in need of help before things reach crisis point for them.

We need to do this without extra resources, so we feel that what we're proposing here is the best compromise between encouraging people to go online, reducing the hours we're open to take calls so that we still provide a telephone service through the busiest times of the day, whilst freeing up existing staff time to make much more proactive outbound contact with our more vulnerable residents.

How much money will this save?

Revising our opening times will reduce the direct cost of staff time required to provide a phone service. We expect the cost reduction here to be around £93,000, but we'll be reinvesting the same amount into making outbound calls which can create a much greater preventative return by helping people to stop needing council
services in the first place.

What if I am not able to use online services?

The customer service centre will still be open for a good portion of the working day and for the most popular calling times. Anyone unable to use the council’s online service offer is still able to contact us.

Will I have enough time for my enquiry?

Some of the enquiries we help with only take a short time, others may take longer. Our advisers will still deal with your enquiry as they do now.

What if I need to report an urgent issue?

As explained above, these changes to opening times only affect our more transactional service requests and for most of these it's reasonable if the contact centre is not available to wait until the next working day. For those able to go online, council services are available 24 hours.

There are some issues, for example adults and children’s concerns, highways issues requiring immediate response, homelessness and car park lock-ins, where an urgent response is needed. Calls like this will be handled through our out-of-hours team, but advisers will only deal with genuinely urgent issues through
this service.

How many days will you be open for?

We expect to remain open between Monday to Friday, but given the very small number of calls we now receive on a Saturday, the fact that most council departments are closed over the weekend, and the cost of maintaining a Saturday service to answer calls, we propose to stop opening the contact centre on a Saturday morning.

What will happen to customer service staff?

Changing our opening times for these service request lines will free up staff time as explained above. We'll be using this time to have the same staff make outbound calls, being more proactive and reaching out to residents who may need some support.

Share your thoughts with us on this proposal by using our short survey.

Go to the survey »

If you'd like the survey in an alternative format please use the email below to request a copy, or call our customer services team on 0345 678 9000 and explain any support you need to allow you to respond.

You can also respond with any comments in writing:

  • Email:
  • Post: Feedback and Insight Team, Shropshire Council, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shropshire SY2 6ND

Data protection

Information collected in our surveys will only be used by us (Shropshire Council) to inform the immediate and future provision of our services. The information you provide will be kept confidential in accordance with our Privacy Policy. It will not be shared outside of Shropshire Council. Information collected via our online surveys (hosted on the Surveymonkey website) will be stored on SurveyMonkey’s servers in the United States of America and SurveyMonkey gives an undertaking never to disclose the survey questions or your responses to others without permission.