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.
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.
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
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:
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.
"Wolgan Valley is extraordinary and i perform have grasped that concept fully. I can recommend i perform and their services because before they spoke, they listened."