To get you on the inside track in customer service, our consultant Sarah Kettlewell has interviewed a customer service coordinator from an inner metro council in Melbourne.
Very good question – I would say a calm and level headed manner and approach about them. I know that we would typically prefer to have experience within local government or government environment, however we will look at people from a high-volume call centre environment as well.
We would also look for people who computer literate, as the industry is moving to be very computer orientated. We require people to be using 8-10 systems per day including:
We look at people with a strong ability to problem solve and show initiative, as they will be working within a busy and ever changing role.
With regards to contract opportunities, we would ideally look for previous government experience and recent experience in a related role. Those that are comfortable using multiple systems will fit customer service roles well. We are moving to a very computer-orientated industry, with people logging requests online rather than calling.
As customer service representatives are the first point of call, people naturally develop a knowledge base of all services a council offers. A lot of the time we see customer service officers offered administration roles within other council departments.
After three months of starting within customer service as a contractor, you have the capability to apply for internal roles across the organisation. We also see some contractors headhunted within the company. As they did well during one contract, other departments soon start offering further contracts.
See, I was a trainee so I would say to anyone looking into starting a career in local government to open yourself to traineeships. Otherwise, start with contract work as this gives you the ability try before you settle on a role. Contracts give you a feel for the organisation and what areas would like to work in. Of course, customer service gives you the ability to understand the whole of a council and its services, so starting here would allow you to figure out your area of interest or development.