THE GREATER Kempsey shire will receive council customer service in their backyard under a new initiative to launch in January.
In line with changes to the NSW Public Health Order, Kempsey Shire Council is embarking on a six-month trial of a mobile customer service kiosk to increase access to council's services.
At the same time, the hours of operation for the permanent customer service counter will extend. From Tuesday December 1, the Tozer St offices will be open between 10am and 4.30pm four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday).
Wednesdays will be used to take council's services to the community from January 6. It will be a mobile office staffed by council's customer service team visiting Stuarts Point, Gladstone, South West Rocks, Crescent Head and Sherwood on a rotating basis.
Telephone service hours will remain 8.30am to 4.30pm Mondays to Fridays.
Council's manager Community Partnerships, Lyndal Harper, explained that while coronavirus had caused extended disruption - at one point even forcing the closure of the counter service all together - it had created an opportunity to look at alternatives.
"Our stats show that even with reduced front counter hours between July and October, the customer service team fielded more than 13,200 phone calls and served 2375 people at the front counter," Ms Harper said.
"This is more than the same period last year and shows that our staff and community are ready and willing to adapt and change.
"Our bushfire recovery team have added huge value to the community by delivering outreach services in the past 12 months. We're hoping to extend that local connection to the rest of the shire by taking our customer service team out to our towns and villages."
The kiosk will provide information and resources specific to individual towns and villages and will have the capacity to involve other council staff, such as engagement or planning teams, to help residents with issues relevant to their area.
A major overhaul of council's website will roll out at the start of 2021 and the kiosk will let staff demonstrate the new site to the community.
"Between mobile customer service that comes to you and a website that will help users get what they need, we are combining the best of digital and face to face support," Ms Harper said.