Central Goldfields Shire Council: Customer Complaint System

Mar 10, 2013 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Innovative Practiceand/or Service Delivery Award

Phone APPS are becoming more widely used by the community.  Central Goldfields Shire has utilised the existing third party “Neat Streets” App to receive asset faults and complaints from the community.  This has involved the shire building an automatic interface to direct “Neat Street” complaints directly into the shire’s works order system.  The unique feature of this approach is that the status of the requests will be reported back to the complainant via the Neat Streets IT infrastructure.  Because the App is not Council specific anyone with the Neat Street apps can report faults in the shire. The shire does not need to develop its own app. anyone using the same works order system as Central Goldfields Shire will have access to the system.   The system will be promoted to customers for reporting issues and is hoped this will reduce the volume of phone and written complaints which are expensive to process and improve the speed of response and provide customers with feedback of their complaints.   The approach taken will allow council to interface with any other “Neat Streets” like Apps that are in the marketplace.


Detail of the Customer Reporting System.


“Neat Streets” are one existing phone App in the marketplace. Their system enables complainants to take a photo of a problem and sent it to the appropriate council. The App records the GPS location of the problem along and provides a brief report of the problem along with a classification of the issue. The complaints are stored at Neat Streets database for councils to download. Neat Streets identifies the relevant municipality based on the GPS coordinates.

Central Goldfields Shire’s wanted to embrace the ability for residents and visitors to use a mobile phone App to report issues with regard to infrastructure. Council chose not to write a shire specific App but rather to develop an interface to connect to “Neat Streets” database automatically and download complaints to the council’s existing Works Order system. The process is automatically and the data enters the councils works order system in the correct fields with a photo and GPS

Council already employs a Works Order clerk whose role is to determine the action to be taken on reports and complaints received. This person is now presented with the “Neat Street” data electronically and does not need to renter information. The Clerks role is solely to determine if the asset is Councils (as it could be VicRoads or another authority), if the work is urgent requiring an immediate response, an inspection by council’s inspectors or may reject the request if unreasonable or unnecessary.

What is unique is that each action taken during the council’s response will trigger an update to the complainant back to their phone, via the “Neat Street” gateway, advising progress on resolving the complaint.

Benefits of this system

Council could have written its own app but this would then be shire specific. Additionally it may not have had the ability to respond back to the complainant.

Industry approach: From an industry point of view, it is more sensible to adopt more universal standards than each council develop their own. While “Neat Street” is not a standard, and there are other Apps, the approach taken by Central Goldfields Shire allows the same approach to be used for any other third party Apps.

Integration with the Councils Asset System: Council uses it Infomaster Asset Management Software for its works order system. As a result the complaints are being captured in the Asset Management Database to give a future history of problem areas.

An additional Industry benefit is that any council using the Asset Master software will have access to the Central Goldfields Shire solution.

It is understood that several councils in NSW are looking at how they may adopt a similar approach and heard about what Central Goldfields Shire has done through the “Ask your Mates, IPWEA forums.

Delivering on the councils Customer Service Model: Council has established a customer service methodology for dealing with requests.   The “Neat Street” approach has allowed council to complete the feedback loop to complainants which has been difficult to achieve in the past relying on staff to email, write or phone back.

Cost savings

It is believed that dealing with written complaints such as letters and emails is expensive if the time taken for processing letters is considered.  Many complaints via the phone system require reception staff to determine the nature of the issue and where it is and who should be advised.   The benefit of the App is that a photo is attached along with a GPS location and a classify action of the problem. The complaint is directed to the right person almost immediately without a phone call or letter being received.  Ideally more complaints will be received by this method as it will provide the most cost effective way of dealing with complaints but allow an improved customer service.


The Central Goldfields Approach is a more universal approach and could be used by other municipalities.   The approach lends itself to other third party systems being interfaced.  There are improvements in the cost of transactions and customer feedback along with recording asset faults in the Asset Management System.  Central Goldfields Shire has tried to adopt an approach that is beneficial to the industry.


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