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Passport Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (370)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

370. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if there has been an audit or review carried out or commissioned by his Department into service user interaction with the Passport Office; the analysis that has been undertaken by his Department into the efficacy of communications between the passport service and the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61997/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

There has not been a recent review of service user experience undertaken by the Passport Service. Passport Service operations have been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as were many Government services. Despite the consequences of the pandemic, the Passport Service has issued almost 600,000 passports to date in 2021 and 45% of simple adult renewals issue within one business day.

A national survey of Irish consumers conducted by a third party during June and July 2021 ranked the Passport Service as the best public sector brand in the customer service category.

The Passport Service continually examines ways to improve its communication and engagement with passport applicants. In recent weeks, all staff working in the Customer Service Hub have received customised training giving them additional resources and tools to provide excellent customer service. Preparation is currently underway for several system and service improvements that will enhance the customer service experience and will improve processing times. These improvements will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months. In addition, the Passport Service participates in the inter-departmental Quality Customer Service Action Team.

The Passport Service Customer Service Hub has been operational since June 2021 in line with the scaling up of passport operations as pandemic restrictions were eased. Customer Service officers respond to customer queries by phone and webchat as well as with enquiries related to Emergency Passport cases. Since June, Customer Service officers have responded to 155,000 queries from customers.

My Department attaches the highest priority to ensuring that the Passport Service is resourced to respond to current and anticipated high demand for passports. My Department is actively working with the Public Appointments Service to recruit and assign additional permanent and temporary staff between now and the end of January 2022, bringing total staff numbers to 920 and effectively doubling the number of staff at the Passport Service. These staff members are currently being trained and assigned across all areas of the Passport Service, including to the customer service team. I am confident that these additional resources will help to improve customer experience and reduce turnaround times.

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