Toronto city hall needs to create a culture of customer service for its residents, says the city’s first ombudsman, whose office has now been open for six months.

“We have lot of challenges around issues of customer service,” Fiona Crean told councillors at a meeting of the Etobicoke York community council last week.

“I’m repeatedly finding voice mails are full. Please call my assistant, I’m on holiday. You call the assistant, and the assistant is on holiday,” she said.

“There is nothing more frustrating than a citizen calling in and getting a full voice mail, or being told to call somewhere else,” Crean said in a later interview, noting it has happened to her both as a resident and as ombudsman.

Appointed as part of a new accountability structure at city hall, Crean’s job is to handle public complaints related to city government, including its affiliated agencies. However, it is the place of last resort — she will only look into a case after residents have tried to resolve a complaint through the regular channels.

Crean is still mulling over what recommendations she might make on how to make the city more customer-friendly, but intends to bring up the issue during meetings scheduled with senior managers in coming weeks.