Service vital: Hanley

HOW important is customer service to an organisation that operates in a virtual monopoly?

“Vital” was the response from North West Shelf Gas marketing manager John Hanley at the launch of the 2000 Australian Customer Service Association Awards.

In fact, NWSG, the marketing arm for the six companies involved in the North West Shelf Gas Project, received a highly commended award in the 1999 ACSA WA awards.

Mr Hanley said NWSG was a small company of fifteen staff. However, the staff are seconded from the six companies involved with the project and rotate every two years.

Mr Hanley said the staff rotation had the potential to cause problems with continuity – a crucial factor in customer service. Despite this, the organisation had a strong customer service focus.

“Our first major role is customer service. Our second role is business development,” Mr Hanley said.

“We try to solve our customers’ complaints to their satisfaction and seek their feedback to improve our service delivery. Any one of our staff can solve a customer’s problem. We worry about authority later.”

Mr Hanley said customer service was the basis of any successful business.

“Customer service training should be included in any induction training,” he said.

“A company should not just meet a customer’s expectations. It should exceed them.”

Mr Hanley said the customer service approach had to be consistent.

“Don’t just get revved up for the three months while this competition is on. It defeats the whole purpose.

“You need regular research and a computer-based system to track both complaints and compliments the company receives,” he said.

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