Barb, Chantelle and Hanna: Collective members - Women's Health Shelter - Date 13 August 2015

Barb, Chantelle and Hanna were interviewed as part of the client experience project by Marlene Butteriss from the Queensland Council of Social Service.

This project aims to:

  • Gain a better understanding customer experience and satisfaction moved here.
  • Identify levels of customer satisfaction.
  • Identify what is important to customers in terms of satisfaction.
  • Identify different levels of satisfaction experienced.

To find out more and to join the conversation, join us on the Customer Experience Network space


Marlene: So thank you guys for joining me today. Can I start by getting you to introduce yourself and getting you to tell us a little bit about the service that you provide. 

Chantelle: Well I’m Chantelle, and Hannah and Barb. We are collective members for Women’s Health Shelter. Which is a domestic violence refuge and outreach support service. 

Marlene: Can you give me a general overview of the people that access your service.

Chantelle: It's women and Children who are primarily escaping domestic violence but we also have the center, so we provide center based outreach support to women and children who may not be escaping but have experienced violence at some point and come here for support. 

Marlene: So apart from the children that might come with the women, do you have any involvement with any of their other family and friends as well or is it just generally the women that come to seek service.

Hannah: Generally the women who come to seek service only but there are time when they will return with a family member, a sister or mum or friend who they think they might want to access support here as well. 

Marlene: So we have talked a little bit over the last couple of months about the customer experience project, so in that context who do you consider to be your customer?

Chantelle: I don’t know if we ever use the word customer? I think we try and resist that kind of language. 

Barb: We would never use the word customer, would be more accurate. We know that the women and kids that we are working with could be us, could be our families and so rather than having a relationship… I mean of course we are in a different position because we’re responsible, we’re employed to do a specific job working to support these women and kids but we don’t want to widen that separation by having the term customer, which also applies or belongs to a business model and we are trying to resist the corporatization of social services. 

Chantelle: And privatization as well. 

Marlene: What type of tool did you use to seek feedback from the women?

Chantelle: We’ve used all sorts of kind of tools. We do have feedback forms and we try and kind of be very open in terms of getting verbal feedback. And we also then employ every 2 years an external consultant, who will come and interview the service users. So that’s a big thing we do every 2 years.

Barb: I think we started doing that about 7 years ago. So we are due for another one this year. We started doing that because we realized that the feedback that we were getting back from women was pretty sporadic and that we were really only hearing from women who either had a very positive experience or women who had a very negative experience and they were missing out on some feedback. We generally wanted to have feedback from women so that we could know what was working, what things that we needed to change, so when we were doing our evaluation of our own sort of service, that’s one of the things that we identified. So then we started, we did the first evaluation and explored someone externally to interview woman about their experience with our service and then we have sort of tweeked that each time that we’ve done it, we have sort of changed some of the questions to reflect both to respond to our service agreement and also the things that we were looking for to get feedback on.  

Marlene: And has some of that happened because of the feedback that you have gotten and that’s fed in to tweeking the questions as you said? 

Barb: Yeah that’s right. 

Marlene: And how did you do that originally or how do you do that when you are tweeking the questions, is it a collective piece of work or is it something your external person does? 

Barb: We’ve had some recommendations from the women, 2 women so far who have done the interviewing and they have had some recommendations and we have also had collective discussion afterwards and they go through the interviews/evaluations and give us feedback. Then we have a discussion and see what things we want to change in the next one. 

Marlene: What have been some of the positive outcomes that have come from that process?

Barb: It’s been good hearing about the things that have worked for it, and some of those things I think have surprised us, so its new information that we wouldn’t have gotten by any other means other than by having someone ask for it, there was also some important more negative feedback that we needed to hear from women about their experiences in the refuge when we are not there and I think that that also sort of identified some problems that women have in talking to us about problems while they are in the refuge because they are very vulnerable because they need the accommodation, they need the relationships with other women there to be ok and that makes some difficulties for women in terms of providing that feedback to us. 

Marlene: What are some of the challenges in using that process? 

Chantelle: I mean it’s quite expensive, we have put I think about 40 hours aside to employ the consultant and for her to do the interviews and then sort of write up and applying the results. That’s quite a big chunk of money for us

Especially, because we go back through our files and collect the contact details that we have for all the women that have accessed our service for the two years but because of the nature of women’s lives, where they have experienced domestic violence and need to go into refuge, may not have a current contact detail for them, their phones break, they change their phone numbers, they more or they don’t want to have contact with us or loose contact with women, so therefor we already have a limited pool to refer to and with that then there’s the added difficulty of arranging a time that suits women and the woman who’s doing the evaluation is available. Then it ends up with a very small number that end up being interviewed to give feedback 

Chantelle: Then there is also a lot of women that need interpreters, so that kind of can slow down the process as well. And also finding that, you know lots of women love the opportunity to talk and that can kind of make the interviews expand out.

Marlene: Can you share with some of the other services about the thought processes behind having an external person to do the interviews? 

Barb: Its bit of a conflict or the things I was referring to before that if women want to be able to come back and be supported by us, they may not feel like they can be completely honest, if that is going to somehow jeopardize their relationship with us and/or if they felt that even if they didn’t want to come back to us they still might feel some apprehension or fear about giving negative feedback to us and so we thought that might help by… and also making it confidential so that women aren’t identified in terms of who said what, who’s given what feedback but make it so women felt that they could be as honest as possible. 

Chantelle: Because we can then get feedback about individual workers as well, which I guess wouldn’t happen if it was one of us doing the interview.

Marlene: So what are some of the opportunities that have arisen out of this process?

Barb: Well I think it helps improve our service, there’s also a kind of difficulty which we have talked about around kind of how you prove to funding bodies that what you are doing is actually worthwhile and effective. So we’ve thought about the quite a lot and how you kind of would ask questions about what difference it made in the woman’s life to come here. Then we are getting to the very trick area of outcomes and how you measure things. We tried to kind of include a few questions that try and kind of give us a bit of sense of the impact of our work/that the service might have had. And that’s also good for us in terms of trying to explain why we are needed.

Marlene: In terms of the process itself, is there anything else you would want to share with other services around some of the lessons that you have learned and anything that you might think would be useful to other service providers? 

Chantelle: Well I think that we are very fortunate with the two consultants that we have had, they have actually been ex workers from a long time ago and they were really sensitive, I think that sometimes they have kind of felt that, they are very sensitive and very supportive of the women they are interviewing and I think that’s a good thing. It’s not just that there are set questions it’s kind of, often ends up in discussion, I think. They end up telling the interviewer about their lives and what’s been going on. 

Barb: And they are given the opportunity too if they want some follow up contact to happen, then that feedback can be given to us and then we can be in contact with them. 

Chantelle: So I wouldn’t just get anybody but depends on the nature of the service and who you are talking to. 

Barb: I think it’s good to, you know we do still sometimes get feedback, from women, verbal feedback and women might write to us about their time in the refuge. But I think it’s great to have that feedback, to seek the feedback, when women have had a bit of time away from the refuge to reflect on their experience because I think sometimes if women are immersed in it then, I mean sure they can talk about their current experiences but sometimes they sort of get a bit of a, u know, a bit more perspective at the time more understanding of where they were.

Marlene: Thank you for your time. 

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