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Our people and their mahi

10 May 2018

Our people and their mahi

Deane Takao

In an ongoing series meeting 'our people', we chat to senior customer services officer Deane Takao about his mahi, dealing with the community at the front desk of Awarua . . .

What is your job and what does it involve?

I’m a senior customer services officer. I'm passionate about serving our customers and helping them with their enquiries. That's our internal customers too, our staff.  Every day is different and customers questions are diverse and even include non-council business. It's our team who serves you at the counter, on the phones and we answer web and email queries too. 

What do you enjoy about the job?

I appreciate having one! I enjoy the interaction with people and especially welcoming new people to our community or greeting familiar faces. As a team, we work really well together sharing information and knowledge to ensure the customers get consistent information and services. It's important that we all work so well together. Comic relief is essential in our tight knit crew. A common remark on rates day is that our customers are paying our wages, which of course is correct. My comeback: “Hey, I’m paying my wages too!”

What are the challenges of the job?

How can we be responsive to all groups in our society? Tairawhiti has an ageing population and a very young one. How do we cater for this diverse range of people and still provide excellent customer service? The likes of social media and the internet are tools used by much of the community but may not be available to all. Much of our business requires online activity. With the increase of the rules and regulations in many of the building, resource management and compliance requirements, a challenge is figuring out the best way that we can make it an easier journey for our customers.  

What are some new initiatives in customer service that could be of benefit to the community?

Our new 8.30am opening time - customers can sleep in and don’t have to come in so early! Actually, with that half-hour period (because we still start at 8am) we get a chance to catch up and get ready for the day. Our new building Awarua has provided a great place for the community to do business. We now have the ability to complete any transaction or inquiry at any workstation at the counter.  

How could the public make it easier for you to get the job done?

Don’t talk over us and remember to put your teeth in! The more detailed information we receive the better.  

How do you like to spend your time out of Council?

Long walks on the beach and watching the sunset! No, I would rather be in the water, surfing. I try to get out when I can and although I call it surfing others may say I'm just floating around on a hunk of fiberglass. I do the early morning gym thing 3ish times a week and my wife and I enjoy dancing, be it a bit of salsa, ballroom or "old people" Zumba. We have a big family who have largely vacated the home, so renovating is an option now, accompanied with a list of jobs. Oh, did I mention seven beautiful grandchildren? Getting together for a whanau hui is a must.