What makes a winning Gold Quill entry? Employee communications / Gold Quill / Member post

The IABC Gold Quill Awards program recognises business communication excellence globally and is acknowledged as one of the most prestigious awards programs in the industry. Gold Quill winner, Megan Osborne gives us an exceptional insight into her entry that took customer service of people in need to a new level at NSW Trustee & Guardian.

Customer Excellence Principles Team Activities (NSW Trustee & Guardian)

Delivering services to some of the most vulnerable people in the community, or to a person who is going through a vulnerable time in their life, can be complex but rewarding work. However, understanding what customers need at these times can have a significant impact that will stay with them long after the service is delivered.

NSW Trustee & Guardian is a state government agency that provides Will-making and deceased estate administration services and can also be appointed by a court or tribunal to act as a person’s financial manager and/or guardian if they lack the ability to make decisions for themselves because they have a disability.

As an organisation with a purpose statement ‘To protect, promote and support the rights, dignity, wishes and choices of our customers’ having a shared language and understanding of how to achieve this to a high standard was a missing piece of the puzzle.

Insights showed there was an opportunity to improve customer service. Customer satisfaction was either low or declining, complaints were on the rise and staff morale was down following an organisational restructure in 2016.

NSW Trustee & Guardian’s Communications & Engagement team worked to develop the Customer Excellence Principles Team Activities as a tool to turn this around and embed a culture of customer service excellence.

Goals and objectives

Our measurable objectives were:

  • 40% increase in awareness of the principles, measured by pre and post strategy surveys.
  • 40% increase in understanding of the principles, measured by pre and post strategy surveys.
  • 5% increase in Customer Satisfaction Indices for all customer streams over 12 months.
  • 80% of teams complete all five team activities, tracked through completion rates.

Our audiences

For the principles to be effective, they needed to be adopted by customer-facing staff, but equally important were non-frontline staff recognising that they too had customers. Staff in primary audiences had a belief that they already provided excellent customer service. In the pre-strategy survey, 31 of 45 responding team leaders rated their staff at least 8 out 10 for customer service.

Team leaders

NSW Trustee & Guardian staff work in teams and turn to their team leaders as their most trusted source of information. However, team meetings were irregular and there was an opportunity to strengthen this powerful communications channel.

Frontline staff

Our more junior staff are attached to routine and their roles are process driven. There are two distinct segments within this group: Will-making staff based in retail branches and staff in service centres. Metrics showed a relatively low engagement with news items published on the intranet, but a high engagement (70%) with the CEO update, two key internal communications channels.

Specialist teams

Specialist teams such as Legal, Finance, Tax and Audit had a perception they did not have customers because they didn’t interact with people outside of NSW Trustee & Guardian.

  • The Solution
    To achieve our goal, we designed a series of five team activities that used an experiential learning approach. Activity 1: Personalised – External and internal customer personas were created to build awareness that all teams had customers with different needs.
  • Activity 2: Empathy – A video of NSWTG senior leaders describing the organisation in three words was used as a basis for group discussion about empathy.
  • Activity 3: Insightful – A NSWTG service was documented to test it was being delivered consistently.
  • Activity 4: Convenient and Timely – A service was interrogated to see if it could be delivered in a more convenient and timely way.
  • Activity 5: Value – Working together, teams created their own customer value statement.

Materials were packaged in large boxes personally addressed to team leaders and tied with a ribbon to create a sense of excitement. Boxes contained everything required for the activities so there was no barrier to completing them. Reflection sheets were a key feedback mechanism and pulse check for how teams were feeling about the activities at each stage were used as  a way of finding out what teams had learnt.

Key messages

Supporting communications were delivered through intranet news, CEO and Director updates, personalised emails and presentations to team leaders ahead of the roll-out to highlight the importance of their role in the activities.

The results
There are tangible signs a shared language for customer service is emerging at NSW Trustee & Guardian. Team leaders have been able to talk about issues that they haven’t known how to raise before. The principles have given us an internal dialogue that has helped with the roll-out of further customer experience initiatives and staff performance goals related to the principles.

Importantly, in most areas of our services the CSI has increased by 5, 10 or 20 per cent as a result of introducing a customer excellence program that enables NSW Trustee & Guardian to have a clearly defined framework and shared language.

The strategy has been recognised as an example of best practice for internal engagement and is being piloted at other government agencies.

ObjectiveMeasurement methodTargetOutcome
Increase in ‘high awareness’ of Customer Excellence PrinciplesPre and post strategy team leader surveys40% ↑42% ↑
Increase in staff ‘high understanding’ of Customer Excellence PrinciplesPre and post strategy team leader surveys  40% ↑40% ↑
Average increase in CSI across all customer streamsCustomer Satisfaction Surveys 2019, Marketing Metrics5% ↑7% ↑
60 teams complete all 5 activitiesCustomer value statement received80%80%
Table 1 Customer Excellence Principles Team Activities Targets and Outcomes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *