‘Let’s Talk’ — Bela-Bela Municipality’s new customer service app

The Bela-Bela Municipality has paid heed to customers’ complaints about the customer care service that was not functioning.

They launched the official Let’s Talk mobile app on Friday 3 March to improve service delivery.

The app’s main function is to act as a tool where ratepayers can report municipal issues and receive feedback on a data basis.

The app is on a trial run for the next 12 months up until March 2024, said Setona Moepi, chief app developer during the launch. Adjustments to the programme is ongoing.

The app was launched through efforts of the Waterberg District Municipality, the Center for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), the Department of Cooperative Governance, human settlements and traditional affairs (Coghsta), The United Nations Development Program and SAYA Setona, the app developers.

The launch was welcomed due to the municipality’s poor record regarding the customer care service center.

Faulty phone lines and the lack of feedback on complaints were issues that were raised in the past. Trying to contact an official by traditional means (telephone calls) was an impossible task and left rates payers up in arms.

If the Bela-Bela municipality finds the mobile app to be effective after the year trial run and clients are satisfied with customer care, they can make provision in the annual budget to buy and maintain the app, said Moepi.

Gloria Seleka, Bela-Bela Mayor, said the app can assist in curbing the long queues at the municipality. The accounts department has a history of clients waiting in line.

Mmabatho Kunene, CPSI representative, stated that most of the initiatives have not been a success, due to bureaucratic influences.

Setona said the app will cut administration costs, especially printing costs, for municipal customers and departments.

“It will form part of the smart city system, which is already live in places like Polokwane and Gauteng. Instead of a client service center receiving countless phone calls, the app can group all issues reported together into one incident, notify the relevant department and then generate a response,” said Setona.

“Customers will receive a reference number for complaints. People can also upload photos of municipal issues on the app, but it is essential that the correct address, where the problem is, be provided. Positive feedback was received since most South Africans own a smartphone.”

The app can be downloaded on the Google Play Store — Let’s Talk Gov.

Ratepayers will be required to create a user profile — name, surname, address, town and ward. This is meant to do away with hoaxes and fake reporting, said Setona.

The app can however be accessed only through a steady mobile internet connection.

The municipality’s direct number, (014) 736 8000, will remain active in the meantime.

Training for the regular customer service agents at the municipality to utilize the app has already been completed, according to Peter Moloto, the municipal spokesperson.

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