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May 2009
Home > Policing the community

Small changes make a first-class service

Adding that personal touch like a vase of fresh flowers from the garden at the front counter can help make a police station a more inviting environment for customers, as Rita Turner discovered as she led Nelson Station in the ‘Great Station Challenge’.

Challenges were held in the Nelson Bays and Auckland Districts, which had recently taken part in Service First pilot schemes to help improve service at public counters. Participants were asked to identify five aspects of the public counter that could be improved and to make changes to create a more positive experience for the public.

The Auckland competition was won by Downtown Station, led by reception staff Lakshmi Kovvuru and Ana Feki, while Nelson Station won in Nelson Bays.

Auckland challenge winners Lakshmi Kovvuru and Ana Feki with Service First Programme Director Susan Campbell.
Photo: Senior Sergeant Raylene Larson, Auckland City

Rita and her team’s improvements included repairing a cracked window, cleaning up gardens at the front of the station, providing new chairs so customers have choice in where they sit and moving the buzzer on the counter so it is easier to reach.

Other initiatives such as keeping waiting room posters current and interesting, having maps on hand to give out and youth education stickers for children all help to make a visit to the station more pleasant.

Lakshmi says that the 25 years since Downtown was built had taken its toll on the station reception.

“It had never been painted. So painting it and adding a feature wall, made a real difference. We also added new furniture in two colours.”

Other changes included name badges for Lakshmi and Ana, new signage outside, an intercom for after hours linking to Auckland Central’s operator and aluminium weather strips to stop the automatic glass doors from opening unnecessarily as trucks went past.

The team even rang Auckland City Council to arrange for the footpaths to be cleaned thoroughly.

“The changes we’ve made have really made the environment better for people coming in,” says Lakshmi. “Visitors have been commenting on how much tidier and more presentable it is now.”

‘Service First’ is a police initiative to improve the quality of all police services provided to the community and individuals.

Service First Sponsor, Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls says the first part of the programme involved the successful implementation of refresher training on roadside interactions and the development of Best Practice Standards for the public counter and telephone.

“The programme that Rita, Lakshmi and Ana were involved in will now be rolled out nationally,” he says.

Service First Programme Director Susan Campbell says the aim is to ensure that everyone who comes into contact with police is satisfied with the experience.

“To achieve this, police staff are being encouraged to make every contact count and provide services that meet or exceed the expectations of the public. All stations made a real effort in the challenge and I know district judges found it a difficult decision.”

A Citizens’ Satisfaction Survey conducted in 2008 by Gravitas Research and Strategy Ltd found that 80 percent of those people who had contact with police were either satisfied or very satisfied with the level of service they received.

Susan says that although the results are good at the moment, the aim is to continue to improve.


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