19 December 2007

Service SA delivers...

I'm pleased to report that after my post last week and some further phone calls, when I wasn't automatically cut off and managed, after I'd read out the post, to speak to someone with access to people in authority, I've now received my bike number plate.

I've not yet had the promised reply from the Registrar-General, yet it's good to learn that there are knowledgeable people in his department, though unfortunately most of them don't seem to be deployed to front line customer service duties.

During my quest for a resolution I was told various things, including

  • by the dapper, mild-mannered, mustachioed gentleman who took my order and who was at counter 6 today when I collected the plate, that there was no way I could collect it until after Christmas (I was expecting him to say it was more than his job to vary the rules, but he didn't go that far)
  • by someone over the telephone that if I didn't have the correct numberplate(s) I should contact the police, either here or interstate, to see if they would accept (or turn a blind eye to) an interim home made number plate
  • by an automatic message reply when I emailed (as I was advised to do) the Registrar-General
Thank you

Your enquiries will be forwarded as quickly as possible to the relevent section within Transport SA, and we will endevour to respond as quickly as possible (during normal office hours).

Anyone for Spellcheck ?

  • by a female supervisor, who was extremely helpful, that (1) as the plate was a small one, it could be produced more quickly than I'd been told by the West African Australian manufacturer and (2) the Australian Road Rules allowed for a number plate to be relocated to a bike rack so that it was visible. This I didn't know, and I wonder why explanatory notes about this and the myriad other rules couldn't be made more widely available on the internet and, if funds permit, in what would need to be a very bulky volume.
I must make it clear that all the people with whom I dealt were courteous. They also seemed to have a sound grasp of the most common issues with which they deal. They don't, as my experiences attest, have that extra layer of knowledge to help resolve more challenging issues. The supervisors and managers seem to able to tap into this but it's not easy to contact them, either in person or, as my previous post indicated, over the internet.

With the State government proposing to introduce a shared services regime throughout the public sector it's a worry that the current system has so many shortcomings, and so little awareness, let alone acknowledgement, of these. Shoehorning the customer contact functions of several departments into one office sounds a good idea, but when doing so often results in delays and incorrect answers to queries this can only add to the costs of administration, not to mention the negative perceptions of many clients.

A suggestion: the Medicare claims centre in Currie Street uses a similar ticketing system to the North Terrace Service SA office, yet in my experience everything flows much more smoothly there. Perhaps the relevant State government ministers and senior officials could look into this take a leaf or two out of Medicare's book.

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