Customer Contact Centre's Kali Maharaj
Our Customer Contact Centre is the first point of call for all enquiries about the Council, and although most are easy to answer, some are a bit trickier… or just plain unusual!
“We have nine phone lines here including the WCC general line, building consents, building inspection bookings, dog registration, parking, Learn To Swim, Meridian wind farms, recreation bookings, and central library – so we have to be jacks of all trades, and masters of all,” laughs Kali. “We also monitor Twitter, reply to emails, and keep an eye on incoming texts from the FIXiT app.”
The Contact Centre is open 24/7 with a team of 15 during the day, and seven in the evening. Our staff needs to be very knowledgeable about all that goes on at the Council, including all its services and facilities, so they’re very dependent on gleaning information from the Council website and the Contact Centre guide which they call the Source Of All Knowledge – aka SOAK!
Team members each monitor numerous phone lines, and when a call goes through they answer enquiries by referring to the website or SOAK, or if it’s a service request it gets logged for the relevant Business Unit to action.
If you’re customer facing there are always going to be challenges, and for Kali and her team, that’s part of the enjoyment factor of the role.
“Sometimes the Customer Contact Centre is treated like an information line with people calling for all sorts of questions unrelated to the Council like weather updates, how to get tickets for shows, or daily train schedules, and we try to point them in the right direction but do encourage callers to give Google a go first!
Here's a small sample of recent unusual calls:
- “Am I required to get consent to bury my husband in the back yard?”
- “Why do people toot their horns through the Mt Vic tunnel?”
- “What can Council do about the sun shining through my window and causing my bananas to go brown?”
- “I have a dead horse in my back yard. What do I do with it?”
- “Hello, is this the number I ring to get a wife?”
“We also get a fair few regular callers and we always treat them with respect and patience. We are trained to handle all sorts of behaviours, and sometimes they just want to vent – the key is not what you say but how you say it, keeping the customer rapport, and being able to sometimes say ‘no’ nicely.”
Working at the Customer Contact Centre doesn’t necessarily require specific qualifications, but it does need some pretty important life skills – and a passion for Wellington, says Kali.
“I worked in the hospitality industry since I was 14 so I’m used to being front of house and dealing with all sorts of customers, so it seemed a natural step coming to work here.”
Kali has worked at the Council for seven years, including the past year in her current role, and says this is her dream job because she gets to deal with people, has a fantastic team, it’s always high adrenalin, and never boring.
“We play a very important role in the organisation, and it’s satisfying we can be part of all the wins,” she adds.
Moving with the times, the Council has also introduced a new smartphone app, FIXiT, which gives Wellington residents, businesses, and visitors another way to let us know about problems you may see that need fixing around the city.
The free app can be downloaded from Google Play or iTunes and it allows you to take a photo, tag the location on Google maps, and leave a description of the problem. Once sent, the message is logged with the Customer Contact Centre and the right staff notified. You will also receive a follow-up email.
The Customer Contact Centre team were rewarded for their dedicated service by winning the top award at the Local Government customer service awards in September – beating out Auckland Council, Nelson City Council, and Marlborough District Council for the prestigious gong.
If you have any queries about the Wellington City Council services please contact them on (04) 499 4444, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or free text to 3400.