Green light for Waipapa-based customer service centre

4 Apr 2017, 9:07 AM

The Northland Regional Council is to open a new office at Waipapa near Kerikeri to deliver long-sought customer service improvements to the mid-North area.

The prime 140 square metre customer service centre will be based in leased space in a Klinac Lane office block (opposite Waipapa’s Warehouse store) and will initially be home to up to eight mainly operational mid-North based staff.

Council chairman Bill Shepherd says the council has just entered into a three-year lease enabling it to trial the new centre – tentatively scheduled to open mid-year – which will be the council’s first move into a new town since its formation almost 30 years ago.

He says the mid-north area is a ‘geographic gap’ in council’s existing customer service network, which is largely serviced from its Whangarei headquarters (involving considerable travel) as well as its Opua and Kaitaia regional offices.

“The new service centre is in direct response to customer feedback.  It will allow council to provide a broader range of services, as well as increased opportunity for customers to discuss issues with staff face-to-face, encouraging positive engagement and increasing our understanding of local issues.”

Other benefits include reduced staff travel time and increased productivity.

Chairman Shepherd says the need to improve its mid-North service was identified several years ago and the Waipapa centre means council will have offices in Dargaville, its Whangarei head office, a Kaitaia office and the largely maritime-focussed Opua office.

The council already shares office space with its district council counterpart in Kaipara and had investigated doing so with the Far North District Council in Kerikeri too, but ruled it out for a number of reasons, including lack of space and poor parking.

Similarly, both Kaikohe and Kawakawa had also been considered for the new service centre, but both were “further from the population centres and growth areas of the mid-north and less likely to gain the customer benefits we are seeking”.

In contrast, the modern and airy Waipapa space the council had secured was ideal and was centrally-located within the council’s target area, with good access and an established rural service centre.

Chairman Shepherd says existing regulatory, land, rivers and biosecurity staff who live locally, but currently work in either the council’s Opua, Whangarei or Kaitaia offices will initially staff the new Waipapa centre, bringing with them valuable local knowledge.

As well as housing council staff, the Waipapa centre would contain a meeting room for a minimum of eight people with video-conferencing capability and at least one smaller meeting room for two to three people.

He says work to fit out the new centre is expected to begin shortly and it is expected to be formally blessed and opened early in the council’s new financial year.