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Improving customer service for defence bases

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Improving customer service for defence bases

Nous came with fresh ideas, attentiveness and a program of work. I’m most proud of the way staff came along on the journey. We are more focused on outcomes and the customers.
Alice Jones First Assistant Secretary, Australian Government Department of Defence

The Department of Defence is responsible for defending Australia and its national interests. Its Service Delivery Division (SDD) supports the running of Defence bases and facilities across 117 sites as part of the $3 billion annual budget of the department’s Estate and Infrastructure Group.

Service Delivery Division wanted to improve customer service

SDD wanted to improve customer satisfaction with products and services provided on bases and facilities, including refurbishments and maintenance, fuel provision, environmental and waste management, security, transport and food.

Nous reviewed existing structures, accountabilities, processes and performance data and surveyed more than 1,000 staff. We also consulted with more than 270 staff, customers and contractors through interviews, focus groups and large workshops to better understand the drivers of customer satisfaction and outcomes in this complex environment.

Nous worked with the Division to define the changes that would improve performance…

Nous worked closely with executives and others in SDD to:

  • refine the organisational structure and clarify accountabilities
  • improve response and resolution times for key processes
  • de-clutter communications, meetings and knowledge management
  • develop a more customer- and outcome-focused culture
  • create a dashboard to report on key metrics for management and senior Defence stakeholders.

We also worked with Defence product managers for large outsourced contracts to clarify required contract and relationships management capabilities and identify opportunities for improvement.

…and to implement the changes

Nous worked with executives and their reports to implement our recommendations, including:

Implementing the new organisation structure and process changes. This involved uploading organisational structure data into corporate systems, making structural changes and implementing new processes.

Large-scale rollout of ‘how we work’ workshops. Nous designed and facilitated (or co-facilitated with managers) hands-on workshops to enable staff to build a common understanding of their roles and the new processes, via working in groups to solve real problems, followed by workshops to improve division-wide information and communications management.

A well-designed communications program. This included targeted, cascaded communications and weekly emails from the First Assistant Secretary.

The new model is achieving significant results

The new service delivery model is tangibly improving the management of bases and facilities. This is evident in:

  • 14.7 per cent increase in senior Defence officer satisfaction across all SDD services at each base
  • 24 per cent higher ratings by senior Defence officers of base managers’ capabilities, plus improved positive ratings on collaboration and joint follow-through
  • 61 per cent less time required for key Defence-contractor processes, with reductions in the longest outstanding items and a 10 per cent increase in the number of issues resolved per period
  • 27 per cent increase in ratings by senior Defence officers of Estate Maintenance and Operational Support capabilities, plus improved positive ratings on collaboration and joint follow-through
  • a shared commitment for a high-performance, customer-outcome-focused culture.

What you can learn from the Department of Defence

  • Take the time to understand underlying issues and which performance drivers will have the greatest impact before commencing transformation.
  • A combined Nous-client team working together from the executive through to workshop delivery enables the client to keep driving improvements once the Nous components are complete.
  • Dashboards can be very effective for communicating with and understanding the needs of stakeholders in complex environments.

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