A stone’s throw from Wellington, with beaches, cultural events and sports facilities – it’s no wonder Porirua is booming. The city’s population is forecast to be among the fastest-growing in New Zealand, while its economy has gone from strength to strength

With more than 62,000 residents in 2023, the Porirua City Council (Porirua City) has a busy workload. It is responsible for water, maintaining public areas, building consents, dog registrations and a whole raft of other services. Residents and ratepayers have plenty of questions and issues, so they call or email the Council – with excellent results.  

Porirua City recently scored 95.3% in the 2023 National Local Government Customer Experience Benchmark survey: first among all 80 councils. That success hasn’t come without concerted effort, and the team has worked hard to implement its new customer resource management tool, Datascape CRM.  

The team was also recently recognised with an award for “excellence in customer service” by the Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM) and Mayor Anita Baker described the win as “a fitting testament to the commitment of our tireless frontline staff who field your calls and emails and arrive at work every day wanting to help as many people as they can”. 

Family sitting on a grassy hill taking a selfie
The success of Porirua City's 95.3% score in the Customer Experience Benchmark survey and its award for excellence in customer service is the payoff of the team's concerted effort to help as many people as they can – made easier by Datascape CRM.

Eliminating double-handling issues and inefficiencies 

The customer services team had been using a legacy system to log and track customer queries, but it wasn’t delivering a great experience for either the users or the team.  

Customers weren’t regularly updated with how their requests were proceeding, leaving them having to chase up the team to find out what was happening. People couldn’t easily make online payments for their rates and other services. The contact centre staff had to cut and paste details from emails, which often introduced errors. And because the existing CRM didn’t integrate with partner systems, service requests sometimes went missing or were ignored.  

As part of its five-year partnership with Datacom, Porirua City decided to switch to Datascape CRM. 

“One of the principal reasons for the change was to put our customer first,” says Ashley Gore, Porirua City Council’s Manager Customer Experience.  

Datascape CRM went live in June 2022, and 12 months later the customer experience was rated the best of any council in New Zealand. The differences have been dramatic for both residents and the team.

“The team love it – they really see the benefits”

Residents of Porirua can now easily pay their rates online and submit some online applications – an option that will increase as other services come online. When emails arrive at Porirua City they no longer need to be copied and pasted into the CRM. Instead, a service request is automatically created, the customer gets a reference number, and every time someone at Council interacts with the request, that data is recorded.  

“We’ve had feedback from customers that they appreciate the timely manner of updates, and when they ring us we can give them info about what’s going on with their request,” says Porirua City Council’s Acting Manager Customer Experience Jean Hunter, who led the implementation.  

“Customers are impressed that when they call in, the person on the frontline knows what’s going on.”  

Just 12 months after Datascape went live, Porirua City received its first-place ranking from the nationwide customer experience survey. It was an endorsement of how much the Council had invested in improving its customer service.  

Within Council, it took a little time to get everybody on board. But even formerly reluctant adopters have now embraced the advantages of Datascape. Integrated with both the main contractors’ systems and the after-hours service provider, Datascape updates service requests across all the platforms, putting every team on the same page.  

“The team love it – they really see the benefits,” says Hunter. “Requests aren’t going missing, there’s no more cut and paste, and you can see every time someone has touched the request and what they’ve done. The new system has also forged better relationships between our teams.”

Organisation-wide data is driving new improvements

Another benefit of Datascape has been the data it captures. This provides managers with visibility over their teams and helps the organisation identify common queries and issues. For example, Datascape helped the team manage their workload around the annual dog registration deadline at the end of July.  

“We always saw lots of calls when annual dog registrations were due,” Gore explains. “So last year we texted everyone in April saying ‘Let us know if you need to make changes’. We got lots of responses. That meant that when annual registration reminders went out, the number of calls and requests were lower than the previous year. The early reminder gave customers an extra chance to connect with us and saved time for our team.” 

The next step will be enabling customers to log onto the Porirua City website and track the progress of their service requests, says Gore. He believes it will give the Council even more accountability, which lifts the rate of resolved requests.  

In the meantime, the team is aiming to maintain its first-place customer experience ranking in 2024 and keep working with Datacom to improve its systems.  

“There are always some challenges, but we had a great consultant who was very responsive,” says Hunter. “Overall, implementing the new system has been a pretty good experience and I feel like we have a good relationship with Datacom.”

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