Minutes of the Call Centre Committee Meeting

Call Centre Committee
Minutes of the Call Centre Committee Meeting
March 2nd, 2023

Contact Centre Committee Meeting

DATE: March 2nd, 2023


TIME: 9:30am – 11am



LOCATION/FORMAT: MS team meeting



  • Michael Honcoop (Co-chair/Coprésident)(ABSB-DGCPS)
  • Catherine Penney
  • Naureen Haque
  • Jad Slim (ITB)


  • Benoit Remillard


  • Eddy Aristil (UTE Co-Chair/Coprésident)
  • Brian Oldford
  • Justin Von Bornhoft


PowerPoint Presentation Deck 



1. Opening Remarks

The management Co-chair opened by indicating that the online chat function was briefly presented to the Union at the last Tech Chance Committee meeting. He then indicated that the purpose of this follow up meeting was to provide a demonstration of the online platform to the Union. Management invited Jad Slim from ITB who worked on the creation of the online chat platform to present the different core components and answer any technical questions from the Union. 

Management asked the Union if they had questions or comments before starting the presentation.

The Union shared they are pleased with the initiative of being presented the core components of the online chat platform before it is launched as they do not like surprises.

2. Presentation of core components of online chat platform (Jad Slim – ITB)

Prior to the presentation, Jad Slim confirmed that the online platform is still in development and that the core components being presented are not a final product.

In addition to the PowerPoint presentation, Jad Slim demonstrated how the platform can be used to perform concurrent chats. At the moment, the platform is designed for contact centres agents to have only two clients at the same time. With additional training the goal is to increase that number. ITB also demonstrated how agents will be able to transfer clients in the chat platform. This allows transfers of clients back to the queue as well as transferring them to other agents. Once the agent confirms and clears the transferred client (demonstration on ending chat procedures), they will be able to add a 2nd client to their active chats. Once clients are disconnected from the chat function, they will be prompted to complete a survey. The information collected will then be stored internally and used for training/development purposes.

3. Questions

Question from Union (Justin) - Can agents change font text in the chat platform to make it bigger?

Response from management - Yes, it is dynamic and auto adjust. Agents can increase text size as they want it.

Question from Union (Eddy) – What kind of information can be shared on chat platform?

Response from management – General information only, no Social Insurance Number or account specific information.

Question from Union (Eddy) – Why starting with two clients at the same time?

Response from management – New agents would start with one chat to get familiar with the platform and then the expectation is to have agents upgrade to two concurrent chats. Management would then seek feedback from agents to determine if it is sufficient. As agents gain experience, there is the possibility of having more than two.

Question from Union (Eddy) – When did management launch the pilot project for the online chat platform?

Response from management – Last March to the end of November. Approximately 60 to 70 phone agents worked on a Microsoft dynamic platform which was not very good. This new platform started to be experimented with in mid February.

Question from Union (Justin) – Two clients at the same time is a new procedures for Contact Centres agents as they did not previously have two clients on the phone, we are asking them to switch their focus and to perform research for two different clients/subjects at the same time. Will management continue to increase the number of concurrent chat? Can agents be asked to have five concurrent chats? Mental health of our agents is a concern to the Union and this new initiative is pushing for more productivity. The Union is also concerned about agents having to be connected to other programs to get help and being responsible to navigate between different technologies as opposed to being on the phone only.

Response from management – For the concurrent/multiple chat, the business standards are not a one for one ratio on a chat platform. Expectations are different from the phones as it does not require a direct rapid response.

Additional response from management – Feedback received from pilot project live agents was very positive. They started with 3 weeks of single chat and then we reached out to them to see if they were ready for concurrent chat. It took them a day or two to get comfortable but in most cases, they preferred working on concurrent chat than as opposed to be being on the phone. These employees were not on chat function five days a week, but rather splitting phone and chat duties throughout the week.

Additional response from management – To answer part of the question about agents having to connect to other programs for help, management is looking at building a function on the chat platform, but for the moment they are using Teams.

Question from Union (Justin) – What are the quality controls being developed? Typing skills were never tested for phone agents, are we now looking at assessing agents writing/typing skills?

Response from management – The system has automated/pre established generic responses that the agents can choose from. Furthermore, the chat platform also has a spelling check tool similar to Word.

Question from Union (Brian) – We are concerned about the 2 clients at the same time. This is a potential additional stress to our members and we are worried about the mental health impacts. We would like to see a slow implementation process that would start with one chat and evaluate the feedback received from agents before implementing concurrent chats.

Response from management – Management is open to employees’ feedback throughout this new chat function process and employees’ mental health will be considered. Call centres have been renamed Contact centres because the phone is no longer the only way to communicate with the CRA, as such, we have to adapt to the new reality.

Additional comment from Union (Brian) – The union is concerned about the CRA’s willingness to replace human interactions with automated response technologies. The union shared their frustration and stated that Canadians want services provided by real/live people.

Additional comment from management – the CRA is adapting and keeping track with what Canadians want. There is a new segment of the Canadian population that prefers online chat services.

Question from Union (Eddy) – Also concerned about the two chats at the same time. Will bilingual agents be asked to have two chats in two different languages?

Response from management – Yes, the chat platform is designed to accommodate this scenario and to be used in both official languages. Agents can change auto replies languages when switching chat windows. Management understands this scenario increases the complexity of the task and will need to evaluate the impacts.

Question from Union (Eddy) – Will the chat function be launched nationally?

Response from management – Management is looking at a soft launch with only 3 offices at the moment. We will then look to expand the new function in the middle of this month and then gradually bringing in other offices. Management is slowly implementing it to ensure its effectiveness before proceeding with a national implementation.

Question from Union (Eddy) – We already have concerns about our members mental health and now this new function is being added to their duties. Management has mentioned potentially requesting agents to respond to two chats at the same time, what kind of commitment can management make to ensure this number does not increase again? Also what are the impacts of this new chat function on CCAT and performance review?  

Response from management – We cannot confirm it will remain at two chats. Our commitment is that for the moment it is fixed at a maximum of two. Agents are only responding to general questions for the moment, no account specific questions. The goal is to allow this new chat function to also be used for My Account and answer more specific questions. Management is looking at identification issues and other potential problems but the goal is to have this ready by next year. The well being of our employees is important and will be considered throughout this process. We have heard the Union concerns and will consider them as we move forward.

In terms of performance review, we are currently developing it. Quality review is there to identify challenges and determine areas in which development is needed. It will be part of the quality performance evaluation but the framework has not yet been completed. Management might have a draft version to be presented at a later time.

Question from Union (Justin) – How long do agents have to do research when answering two different clients?

Response from management – There are procedures for requesting additional time to do research. Agents can communicate to clients they need some time for research in order to provide an answer.

Question from Union (Justin) – Question about security, what has been developed into this tool for agents’ safety? Any mechanism to stop or block the use of curse words or other types of harassment?

Response from management – Yes there are rapid replies about harassment that can be used. We might be looking at the possibility of IP addresses being blocked but we need more information before answering. Security incidents will be tracked and we will see what this technology offers to resolve this.

Question from Union (Justin) – How long will transcripts from chats will be kept?

Response from management – We will be retaining the ones needed for training but we will need to develop an auto deletion system. For those retained for quality review, they will be kept for two years.

Additional response from management – We are still in the process of evaluating and testing out this new chat system. Management is identifying issues and gaps and will make adjustments along the way. For the quality evaluations, management is looking at a similar process to the current phone evaluations, chat quality checklist will follow the same approach. Over time, other elements might be added as some checklist are left undeveloped.

Question from Union (Justin) – For the auto correct function in the chat, does it recognizes gender of words in French?

Response from management – Not sure, for the moment the system recognizes spelling errors rather than grammar errors.

4. Closing remarks

The Union shared their appreciation for the presentation, however they are concerned that Management will overlook employees well being and mental health by managing CRA’s Contact centres the same way Call Centres are managed in the private sector.

Management acknowledged the concerns expressed by the Union regarding  employees well being and confirmed that the slow implementation of the chat function has been developed in order to ensure that the CRA can adapt and adjust to employees’ feedback.

In addition, management has confirmed that they will consult with the Union once the performance quality review measures are finalized.



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