Changes to Kela’s customer service in the Greater Helsinki Area
Starting 1 September, Kela will replace the customer service points in Hakaniemi, Käpylä and Hakunila with services at other customer service points, online services and telephone service. At the same time, the customer service point in Itäkeskus will move into new spacious premises and a new customer service point will be opened in connection with the health and well-being centre in Kalasatama.
Currently Kela has a total of 13 customer service points in the Greater Helsinki Area: six in Helsinki (Hakaniemi, Itäkeskus, Kamppi, Käpylä, Malmi and Vuosaari), four in Vantaa (Hakunila, Korso, Myyrmäki and Tikkurila) and three in Espoo (Espoon keskus, Leppävaara and Matinkylä). In addition, service is also provided at International House Helsinki, where Kela provides services in cooperation with other public authorities.
Kela continuously monitors the situation at the customer service points. The number of customer service points is increased or decreased according to demand. In December 2017 Kela’s Board determined the criteria for developing Kela’s network of services. Personal service at a customer service point can be replaced by other forms of contact if there is scarce demand and the customers’ need of services can be met through other forms of services. Customer service points that are located close to each other can be reduced if there remains a customer service point nearby that is easily accessible by public means of transport.
On the basis of these criteria, Kela has decided to replace the customer service points in Hakaniemi, Käpylä and Hakunila with other forms of services, starting 1 September 2018. At the same time the service capacity in Itäkeskus and Kalasatama will be increased.
The customer service points in Hakunila and Käpylä have had a smaller number of customers than other customer service points in the Greater Helsinki Area. The customer service points have been open five days a week by appointment. Käpylä has had 30–60 customers per week and Hakunila 300–500 customers per week. The customer service point in Hakaniemi has been open five days a week and the service point has had on average 1,100 customers per week. However, the customer service point’s premises are cramped and not suited for large numbers of customers.
At the beginning of September, the customer service point in Itäkeskus will move from Tallinnanaukio to new spacious premises at the other end of the shopping mall (Turunlinnantie 6 A). On the new premises, the customer service point will have 600 sq metres at its disposal, which is five times more than currently. More than 30 customer service advisors work at the customer service point.
Kela will also open a customer service point in connection with the health and well-being centre in Kalasatama, which opened in February and provides social and health services to adolescents and adults in Helsinki.
The new customer service point in Itäkeskus emphasises the needs of the individual and scheduled appointments
Kela's customer service points are visited by many customers who could handle their contacts with Kela more smoothly on the Internet or by phone. Often the customers hand in or complement claims for benefits, sometimes they also want to clarify something in connection with their benefit case.
Kela wants to help customers to handle their contacts with Kela independently and avoid unnecessary queues at the customer service point. The popularity of online services has increased for several years. In 2017 almost two-thirds of all benefit claims submitted to Kela were made online.
- We want to get rid of the long queues and to help customers to handle their contacts with Kela independently and more smoothly. At the same time we will of course make sure that persons who do not want to or who are unable to handle their contacts with Kela online can also henceforth receive personal service at the customer service points or by phone, says Elise Kivimäki, Director of Customer Relations.
There are customer service advisors at the new customer service point in Itäkeskus who welcome the customers when they arrive. The customer service advisors give advice in benefit matters, help with using the online services and help with choosing the most suitable way of contacting Kela for the customer. There are 40 public computers in the customer service area that customers can use for example to fill in a claim or make an appointment.
If the customer’s situation requires more thorough clarification, the customer service advisor can schedule an appointment for the customer. At the new customer service point in Itäkeskus there are 80–110 appointment slots per day that can be scheduled, and whenever possible, an appointment can be scheduled for the same day. With a scheduled appointment, customer service is available at the agreed time, with no queuing involved, and Kela’s customer service advisor can look at the customer’s situation in advance. If the customer’s situation requires urgent action, it is possible to arrange this within the same day.
Kela strives to cooperate actively also with other organisations in order to create more smooth ways of handling matters, such as ambulatory pop-up service points where Kela comes to the customer, for instance to the Ohjaamo service points, the social services office or a Palvelutori service point. The aim is also that the customer should be able to handle contacts with several public authorities at the same place.
In Kalasatama, Kela provides service in the Tapahtumatori service point of the health and well-being centre. You can visit the customer service point at the same time that you visit the health and well-being centre. At the customer service point in Kalasatama the customer service advisors give advice for instance on how to claim benefits and how to use the online services. There are two public computers at the customer service point. If the customer’s situation requires more thorough clarification, the customer service advisor can schedule an appointment for the customer to some other customer service point.