Council customer service gets a revamp


21/11/2018 4:00:00 p.m.

21 November 2018

Chief Executive, Kym Fell, is leading a charge to modernise and improve front-line customer services at Whanganui District Council starting with a well-overdue revamp of the ground floor reception area at 101 Guyton Street.

Mr Fell says the Council has undergone a significant culture change in the last couple of years. “We are prioritising our community and our customers, which in my view is absolutely essential.”

“I am very pleased that we’re now able to create an attractive and welcoming environment for visitors to the Council. This is part of revolutionising the way we interact with and assist customers.

“We will be moving away from out-dated counters, caged cashier stations and long queues. Instead you will be warmly welcomed and personally assisted, whether this means helping customers complete an online form at a digital kiosk, or introducing them to a specialist such as a duty planner or building officer.

Mr Fell says he is very aware that some members of the community will be concerned to see the Council spending money on this upgrade.

"I am also mindful that we need to create a working environment designed for efficiency and to improve productivity.

“Whanganui is a very welcoming and vibrant community and we want the customer experience at the Council to reflect this. Everyone who walks through our front door should be treated as a very important guest.

“My experience in the hotel industry taught me about attention to detail and the importance of the customer experience. I don't see why our visitors to the Council deserve anything less than five star treatment when they come to see us. After all, they are paying in one way or another for our services.”

The Council building at 101 Guyton Street was designed in 1965 and opened in 1968. A classic example of mid-century modernism, the building has been largely unmodified and retains significant architectural features.

The design of the refurbishment has been undertaken by Dalgleish Architects, re-organising the space to reflect modern business practice, while also recognising the original 1960’s design.

Mr Fell says, “I think our customers will enjoy the new space very much and our staff will no longer be coming to work in an old-fashioned, dreary environment.

“The cost of the interior refit is budgeted at approximately $500,000 which has been accrued over a number of years. We’ll also take this opportunity to address some deferred maintenance and ensure the building is compliant with current codes.”

He says, “I do acknowledge that this upgrade will cause some temporary inconvenience while we close the 101 Guyton Street reception area and I thank our customers in advance for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”

The Council’s Customer Services will be moved to 179 St Hill Street, in the Council infrastructure building, for the duration of the refit.

All the usual front-counter services offered by the Council will be available at the St Hill Street location.

The Mayor and Chief Executive and their staff will move to Heritage House at 136 St Hill Street and all Council Meetings and Committee Meetings will take place there.

“Preparations for the move are already underway and we are all doing our best to make this as smooth a transition as possible.”

Mr Fell says signage will be in place to advise people of the closure and relocation and details will be well advertised. 

Public access to 101 Guyton Street will be closed from 3 December 2018 and construction is estimated to take around three months to complete.

Take a walk through the design.

Page reviewed: 21 Nov 2018 4:00pm