A Qualitative enquiry into customer care centres: The case of eThekwini Municipality?s Regional Centres Unit

21 Jan 2016

The Sphere of Local Government tends to appoint employees to specialised positions based on blind allegiance and political affiliation to the ruling political party, which has led to the malfunctioning of the customer care centres within eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. This malfunctioning has also been seen through unequal distribution of centres, equipment and personnel throughout the municipality, whereby rural or peri-urban centres are characterised by incompetence, a lack of integrity and poor governance. The purpose of this paper is to assess whether distributions of the customer care centres, human capacity and services offered throughout eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality respond positively to the needs of communities. This paper used a qualitative research method, whereby in-depth-interviews were conducted amongst a population size of 53 employees employed within eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality?s Regional Centres Unit. The qualitative research findings have revealed disparities between human capacity, office equipment and the services offered by centres in the previously advantaged and disadvantaged customer care centres. This is evidenced by the absence of office equipment and dilapidated centres at peri-urban or rural areas, as compared to urban core centres. Consequently, this paper contributes to knowledge in the field of Public Administration fraternity as this area of research (customer care centres in the public sector) is still emerging. In many cases, customers in receipt of municipal services from the customer care centres are increasingly having their expectations raised by eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality who often fail to deliver the expected standards of services.