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Case Study - State Water

State Water has more than 40 regional and rural locations throughout New South Wales. It is responsible for the management and delivery of water services for all of the State’s rural cities, agriculture, industry and environmental management.

 

The Challenge

Implementing customer service standards and consistency across remote teams.

State Water is committed to excellence in customer service, bulk water operations, asset management and corporate services. As a corporation, State Water aims to meet the water needs of its customers while continually striving for better service.

Customer feedback and service measures showed that the customer information team (CIOs) needed a more consistent and professional approach in handling enquiries and managing difficult calls. Extensive operational training gave staff the expertise needed to resolve customer enquiries. However, without customer service training, service levels varied and staff were generally not equipped or confident enough to manage difficult enquiries and complaints. Being a relatively new unit, benchmarks for ideal service were also not available. The ideal solution would need to introduce service skills that would be accepted by the team and leave a legacy to help embed them as well.

 

The Approach

Qualifying service needs and training programs through quality service audits.

Phase 1: Identifying and addressing the service needs. The partnership between State Water and i perform began in July 2010, with a series of pre-training, quality service audits. These provided a clear measurement of performance against service behaviours and were used as the basis of a customer service training workshop. The workshop that followed was the first of its kind for State Water, aimed at improving telephone etiquette, the handling of customer service enquiries, and the ability of customer service members to deliver on the State Water service promise. The positive responses to training proved the program was on track.

Phase 2: Sustaining a focus on service. An ongoing auditing program was also implemented to encourage the CIOs to continue the behaviours promoted in the training. The audits would help to maintain a regular focus on service and provide clear benchmarks for improvements that could be shared with the team – this meant a sustainable solution for enhancing the experience of State Water customers even across remote locations. In July 2011 the training was held again, with a specific focus on key training needs and industry issues affecting the service team, and to continue to develop a routine service focus.

Phase 3: Maintenance and transfer of ownership. With these foundations in place i perform designed a series of short, modular training programs, specific to the needs revealed through auditing. These training exercises provided State Water with the resources to conduct targeted training as part of daily CIO operations. The audits continue to provide a benchmark for service quality and management, with i perform developing recommendation reports for State Water.

“The communications from i perform was fantastic… Our team were motivated and gained the skills to guide our people in their interactions with customers.”
Megan, Education Officer

 

The Outcome

Ongoing improvements in establishing rapport, professionalism and handling of enquiries, and a significant increase in customer service scores.

CIOs continue to gain awareness of best practices in customer service standards which has encouraged growth and improvement in this area. Other key outcomes achieved from the program:

  • Training was extremely well received on all occasions. 100% of participants recommend the training and the effectiveness of the program content and facilitators averaged 92%.
  • 84% of CIOs feel more confident handling customer service situations independently.
  • Service experience has measurably improved with a 50 percentage point increase between pre-training measurements and peak performance levels.
  • Service performance has trended upwards since its beginnings. Service has met and exceeded performance targets.
  • The range within audit scores has decreased, meaning more consistent service across the CIO team.
  • The repeated appearance of 100% scores on audit calls across numerous quarters, showing the service standards are possible and lifting the bar on service delivery for the whole team.
  • Significant increase in customer experience such as recognition, rapport, confidence and job competence.

The audits and training have succeeded in creating awareness and accountability for customer service delivery, and provided CIOs with the ability to deliver measurable improvements to the customer service experience.

what clients say

"We are very pleased with the progress we made in 2010 with our bespoke 'i perform' program for our middle management...with outside the box presenters who know the industry and have significant international experience & credentials."

Paul Hutton, General Manager Hilton Sydney

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