#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 14°C Friday 30 July 2021
Advertisement

Digital Covid Cert call centre got 4,000 callers on first day but most hung up before speaking to an operator

The Government Chief Information Officer said he “hopes” most people got the information they needed.

Image: EU Commission

Updated Jul 14th 2021, 4:09 PM

A TEMPORARY CALL centre for people who have queries relating to their Digital Covid Cert received 4,000 calls on its first day on Monday. 

A larger call centre with 60-90 operators dealing with all aspects of the system is due to become operational from next Monday but a temporary call centre comprising 25-30 operators is currently open. 

The Irish government has so far sent out 984,000 Digital Covid Certs via email and over 350,000 via letter, out of a total of 1.9 million that are to be sent out.

The DCCs are being sent out to people who are fully vaccinated as part of Ireland’s adoption of the EU-wide system from next Monday 19 July.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Transport and Communications committee today, Minister of State for eGovernment Ossian Smyth gave details of the temporary call centre that deals with queries relating to people who have received their cert.

The number for the temporary call centre is on the cover letter people receive with their DCC. 

“That’s really if you have some emergency problem rather than having to be pushed up the list or just general questions. It’s being been run by Revenue and Welfare,” Smyth said

I think they’ve been getting 4,000 calls a day, I’m told, and they have 25 to 30 agents manning the phones. Next Monday it is increasing significantly that call centre will deal with regular issues like reissuing certificates, if you’ve lost your certificate or other problems like that.

Government Chief Information Officer Barry Lowry qualified that figure by saying that the 4,000 figure referred to people who called on the first day of operation on Monday. 

He added that most of the people who called up did not stay on the line to speak to one of the operators but listened to the Interactive Voice Message (IVR).

“We’re hoping that that’s a sign that actually the IVR give them the information they wanted rather than they got fed up waiting,” he said. 

Asked to clarify the number of those who hung up, Smyth said: “I think that 1,200 people continued to speak to an operator rather than giving up at the IVR stage.”

However, one caller to the line told The Journal that the initial IVR message didn’t have any useful information other than the government website. 

“I was on hold for over 30 minutes from about 8.45am and was about to hang up when the call was answered. I was ringing about an error in my certificate. Once I got through they sorted the issue out really quickly and said they’d reissue my certificate next week,” she said. 

She believes most people would have given up and hung up before 30 minutes. 

The IVR message tells calls that information is available on the gov.ie website and that digital Covid certs are currently being sent out by email and post. It also advises callers that the helpline is prioritising callers who want to travel in July. 

Roll-out

Smyth also provided the latest figures on the number of DCCs sent out to date, stating saying that the government is “ahead of schedule” in the sending of DCCs by email.

Those who were vaccinated through the HSE’s online registration portal will receive their cert via the email they used as part of that process.  

People who were vaccinated through a GP or pharmacy are more likely to receive their cert in the post. 

Smyth said today that about a million DCCs were to be sent via email and about 900,000 via letter.

Of the letters, Revenue is sending them out as part of the programme and are doing so at a rate of about 50,000-70,000 per day, with this rate expected to be ramped up over the weekend. 

Lowry said it is expected that 90% of the 900,000 letters would be received by next Monday.

Of the 984,000 DCCs so far sent out via email about 7,500 emails bounced back, giving a bounce rate of 0.76%.

Smyth said that he was “very happy” with the low bounce rate and that those people are likely to have to call up the DCC call centre to receive their cert.   

“When you have a database of emails and more than 99% of them are delivering, that’s an incredibly high quality dataset,” he said.

That’s probably because most people put in an email through the portal where they have to confirm their email and click on the link. When you write down an email on a form it’s not quite as good.

“I’m really happy with that bounce rate, it does mean that those people, 7,500 people, presumably will be contacting the call centre looking for a reissue and we will facilitate them in that way.”

Speaking about those individuals, Lowry said these people may be contacted by post if  “robust addresses” are available but that they can otherwise contact the call centre. 

The call centre is set to be live from next Monday and will be manned by 60 to 90 agents. The call centre will be operated from Ireland but some of the agents may be in the UK. 

“The call centre will work electronically, so all of the staff will not necessarily be congregated in one place,” Lowry told the committee.   

PastedImage-15323 Minister of State for eGovernment Ossian Smyth. Source: Oireachtas.ie

The 1.9 million figure mentioned above relates to people who are confirmed to be fully vaccinated. 

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

Speaking about those who are due to become fully vaccinated over the coming period, Lowry said that they should get their DCCs between 1-4 working days thereafter.

Indoor dining

Speaking about the use of the DCC for indoor dining, Smyth said it is his understanding that this will be “one of the ways” that people can access indoor hospitality but that he is “not the authority” on this. 

He referred to work being done involving the hospitality industry and officials from the departments of Tourism Minister Catherine Martin and Enterprise Minister Leo Vardakar. 

“My role on this was to be responsible for making sure that the certificates got issued, that they got printed or that they go out electronically with barcodes,” Smyth said.

“The intention was that they would be used for international travel. A new decision came out of the cabinet on Monday that we would use them for another purpose, which was for entry for indoor dining in restaurants and pubs, so I think how that’s going to work in practice is being worked out this week between the hospitality sector, Fáilte Ireland and the ministers involved.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

Read next:

COMMENTS (67)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel