Keeping the Customer Centre 'open' in lockdown



8 May 2020

Even though the doors were closed to the public from Alert Level 4, the Rotorua Lakes Council Customer Centre remained open, responding to calls and emails from local residents.  

Six Customer Advisors were set up to work from home, and the rest of the team split into morning and afternoon shifts and worked from a closed-off area of the Rotorua Lakes Council Civic Centre to prevent cross-contamination of ‘bubbles’.

Once lockdown started, and Rotorua residents hunkered down in their own bubbles, the team’s workload was effectively halved, and they monitored “only” about 100 emails and 180 phone calls each day. With a reduced number of queries to deal with, the team supported other areas of Council, as well as welfare support for the elderly.

“Through the Ministry of Social Development’s Seniors Office, we were tasked with phoning 1,500 elderly and vulnerable people in the wider Bay of Plenty region to ensure they were aware of Alert Level 4,” Valeta Duncan, RLC Customer Solutions Manager, explains.

“A few of them actually had no idea what COVID-19 was so our team was able to share information with them and check they had enough support including access to food and medication. This vulnerable group was extremely appreciative and, where they had concerns, we could relay these back to MSD to connect them with other services and get welfare support to them immediately.

“Our Customer Centre team received fantastic feedback from MSD and has been asked to do follow-up calls to the group as well.”

In addition to welfare support, Customer Centre staff took on education roles as they worked with the police to get in touch with drivers whose cars had been seen at the Redwood Forest, reminding them not to drive for recreation or congregate in public spaces.

Some staff were also called in to assist with the Civil Defence Emergency Operations Centre, based in the Civic Centre.

And as for those nearly 300 daily emails and phone calls? “A lot of these were related to Civil Defence or welfare concerns,” Valeta says. “We also had a lot of people reporting neighbours for breaching Level 4 restrictions, as well as calls about roaming dogs, and people wanting to know what was happening with rubbish collection.”

You can find the latest Council information relating to COVID-19 here. Information about the rates deferral and other support options is here.

And of course you can contact the RLC Customer Centre between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday on 07 348 4199 or

Page reviewed: 08 May 2020 12:10pm