Local Government Magazine
LG Magazine

Acknowledging frontline staff

Jenny Steer and Joy Gyde

The New Plymouth District Council’s front counter and Contact Centre teams deal with more than 4400 calls, emails and face-to-face enquiries every week; that’s 880 every day and an average of about 110 requests to the council every hour.

The requests can be about any part of the council, from reporting a pothole or requesting a LIM to what’s on at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery or renewing a Puke Ariki library book, so they need an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things NPDC.

On the frontline are Jenny Steer and Joy Gyde. “We get about 42,000 people coming in to see us at the Civic Centre each year and they are all at the forefront of our minds,” says Jenny, who recently celebrated 10 years at NPDC in a number of roles.

She says her position as the Customer Support coordinator is perfect as it gives her the chance to work with people.

“I’ve always loved people and working with people. From a young age I was working in our family businesses behind the counter before and after school and I’ve always enjoyed meeting people. It was actually my husband, who is a building inspector, who was forever trying to encourage me to join and I’m glad he did as it’s a fantastic place to work.”

On a typical day at the Civic Centre, more than 160 customers come in to see Jenny and the team and many of them are regulars.

“They know us by our first name and we’ve built a great rapport with them. While there are more ways to contact NPDC like going online, there’ll always be the need for that personal touch. It’s very rewarding as well to get the praise from satisfied customers.”

Coordinator Joy Gyde says her team deals with about 13,200 calls every month, or about 650 calls every day from Monday to Friday and 2200 emails.

Joy says she has seen big changes in technology and processes but the one constant is the outstanding team she has worked alongside who are dedicated to providing the best outcomes possible for our community.

“I’m really proud of the Contact Centre team. It can be a really challenging role and they are often required to adapt quickly to unfolding events but they never hesitate. They will do whatever is necessary to ensure we are quickly getting help where it is needed for our residents.”

While the two teams complement each other, they often deal with different issues. The Contact Centre has recently dealt with a high volume of calls from customers about the new landfill and food scraps bin service while the front counter team has been handing out free bin latches.

“Both teams do a fantastic job, and help us to help our residents,” says NPDC chief operating officer Kelvin Wright.

“That they are able to resolve nine out of 10 enquiries is down to their fantastic knowledge and brilliant people skills.”

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