The Voice of a City

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The wellington city council is responsible for determining local legislation and the overall vision for the capital city of New Zealand. They needed a clearer understanding of their customer needs in three core areas; learn to swim programme, call centre, and building consents in order to improve their relationship with their customers.

Wellington City Council

The Challenge

The Challenge Embarking on a program of strategic change, the customer-facing arm of Wellington City Council knew that listening to the views of Wellingtonians was going to be key. The Council already employed a variety of feedback mechanisms, but the data collected was largely quantitative. Council service development and improvement manager, Jaime Dyhrberg, saw that what BigEars was offering was different – the ability to capture and share the voices of actual customers, talking freely about what mattered to them.

The Process

Insights not answers
Wellington City Council was no stranger to customer feedback, and had looked at a variety of ways to engage with the local community. It was time for the customer to set the agenda. The three dialogues designed by BigEars cleverly guided respondents through a series of free-response questions, attached to rating scores. The feedback that came in was rich and plentiful, and at times surprising.

Simultaneous Surveys  
The Council wanted to gather  feedback in three important and radically different areas of their core business: the Learn to Swim programme, Call Centre, and Building Consents. Using a proven survey structure and call flow, and after consultation with area managers at Council, BigEars came up with three very different dialogues, designed to elicit maximum insight with minimum effort and disruption to the customer. Questions ranged from the specific, such as; “Thinking about the process you went through to book lessons – we want that process to be as easy as possible. How do you think we measure up on that front?” to the wide-ranging, “Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your contact with our call centre, or, anything else about Wellington City Council in general?

The power of voice
Council staff listening to the feedback began to see the rating score as just an entrée to the main course – the customer’s voice. Call Centre staff created a ‘Wall of Wow’, where positive feedbacks (of which there were many) were displayed to celebrate and motivate hardworking call centre operators. And when customers weren’t happy, staff took the time to respond personally. Alert emails generated by BigEars helped staff to respond immediately when a very low score was given.
"Just to hear the voice of the customers, it does resonate with people. It becomes much more real and I think it’s much easier to feel motivated to respond to that."

“Staff were very receptive to the feedback, be it positive or more constructive. Going into it we did gear ourselves to be responsive to the feedback. If you’re going to ask people for feedback then the very least you can do is respond to it.”

Jamie Dyhrberg
Jamie Dyhrberg
Service Development Manager

The Outcomes

COO Greg Orchard was a huge driver in getting the feedback program up and running and, appropriately, he was the voice of the survey. His warm, natural voice prompts helped to make the survey a success with customers. A short time after the feedback program launched, Council noticed an increase in the number of people ringing up and asking for Mr Orchard by name, illustrating how successful the dialogue had been in giving a human ‘face’ to the organisation.
And Mr Orchard was true to his word. Despite a daunting workload, the busy COO found time to listen to hundreds of voice feedbacks on Customer Radio – logging in daily and following up with staff to ensure customers were given a satisfactory response where it was needed.

“Our COO – our big kahuna– was our most active listener. I think that highlights that this can be set up as part of your daily business process. To start the day with ten minutes saying, ‘what is it customers are telling us,’ would be a really healthy way for people – particularly in customer-facing roles – to go about their day.”

Jamie Dyhrberg
Jamie Dyhrberg
Service Development Manager

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