EQC still lacking on customer service – report
The Earthquake Commission (EQC) still needs to improve how it deals with customers and their complaints, a report says.
Auditor-General Lyn Provost found the commission has made wide-ranging improvements since a damning 2013 report by her office criticised its communication and inconsistent dealings with homeowners.
However, in a follow-up report released this month, she said EQC still needed to better manage complaints and that customers, including vulnerable people, continued to have "mixed" experiences when dealing with the quake agency.
EQC had no formal process for learning from complaints, the report said, and in many cases did not deal with them properly.
"[It] has had too much focus on closing rather than fully resolving complaints, with too many repeat or multiple complaints."
EQC had made some improvements in how it dealt with complaints, including centralising the process around one team, but had not fully integrated its own complaints system with that of project manager, Fletcher EQR.
Its "mixed" performance dealing with customers also needed work, the report said.
Despite improvements since 2013, customers who spent a long time out of their homes during repairs, had lengthy periods of uncertainty, or needed follow-up repairs done were understandably frustrated.
EQC commissioned its own report on the problem following the 2013 critique, but planned only to make "incremental" improvements to its Christchurch programme based on the recommendations.
"It has decided not to incur the significant risk of a major change to systems while responding to events in Canterbury."
The mixed performance was one of the reasons why it was hard to assess EQC's overall performance in Canterbury, the report said.
Labour acting Canterbury spokeswoman Ruth Dyson said the ongoing complaints issues needed proper investigation.
"It's time for [Earthquake Recovery Minister] Gerry Brownlee to launch a full inquiry into EQC. They've had years to sort themselves out and they've failed."
The auditor-general praised EQC's management of repair costs, noting the increase since February 2011 (14 per cent) was only half the rate for new house builds in Canterbury over the same period.
"Repair costs appear to be economic in the circumstances."
EQC had good health and safety practices, the report said, often achieving its goal of no more than six injuries reported for every million hours worked, "even though there have been some risks with asbestos management".
Brownlee welcomed the report, particularly its conclusions health and safety and repair costs.
"One of the … key findings is that EQC has managed to effectively manage repair-cost inflation through the implementation of the home repair programme, which was a primary reason for its establishment."