Service NSW CEO snapped up by Suncorp

By Tom Burton

Thursday August 17, 2017

Dr Rachna Gandhi was one of many private sector executives to be brought into the NSW government’s upper echelons in a major cultural change that now sees nearly half of the senior executive group recruited from outside the public sector.

After over fours years at Service NSW, CEO, Dr Rachna Gandhi, is leaving the public sector to take up a role at the Queensland financial services firm, Suncorp.

Dr Gandhi has been instrumental in the customer service transformation of the nation’s largest government (by head count) and is to become Executive General Manager Strategic Innovation and Commercialisation for Suncorp. She will vacate the position of CEO in early September, joining former local Microsoft MD Pip Marlow in the new strategic Innovation division at Suncorp.

Gandhi joined the NSW Government in 2013 after a series of senior customer executive roles with Westpac and AMP and was key to the development of the citizen centric service strategy. The strategy was devised with then NSW Customer Service Commissioner Mike Pratt and inaugural CEO, Glenn King.

Pratt and King also had banking careers and were brought in by then Premier Mike Baird, who also shared a strong financial services background. Pratt is now Treasury Secretary and King leads the innovative Premiers Implementation Unit.

Gandhi holds a PhD in Consumer Behaviour as well as post graduate qualifications in customer-led strategic change from Stanford and was instrumental in applying  a model that put the citizen at the centre of the design for the new stand alone agency. The aim was to create a seamless experience for users no matter how they engaged with the NSW government.

Previously citizens had to deal with a multiple agencies and navigate through a morass of differing and disconnected systems. At the time NSW had 394 shop fronts, 8000 phone numbers and over 800 government websites that NSW citizens and businesses use to access government services.

Rather than build on top of existing service offerings – predominantly the massive NSW roads agency, now known as Roads and Maritime Authority – a key decision was made to build a new stand alone agency with a strong external facing customer culture.

Service NSW is now managing over 750,000 customer engagements a week and is considered a poster child for how large governments can rapidly build strong integrated customer care systems across a wide variety of service offerings.

Dr Gandhi initially came aboard Service NSW to manage all the channels, overseeing the roll out of over 80 service centres, contact centres, digital stores, store-in-stores and the new integrated digital channel.

The aim was to have 70% of transactions delivered digitally by 2019 and the agency is well on the way to this target with around 60% of all transactions now digital. The digital channel is far more cost effective with Deloitte estimating average costs of 40 cents a transaction compared with nearly $17 for a face to face transaction.

Service NSW is also considered an exemplar for moving quickly, learning from users and stakeholders and improving the platform based on real experience.

Gandhi took over the CEO role in 2015 and has introduced a series of product improvements including Australia’s first digital licence regime and an associated identity “tell us once” regime off the back of the MyServiceNSW platform.

She has continued to promote the strong service culture, with the customer ethos engrained in Service NSW delivering customer satisfaction scores averaging 97%.

Another key initiative has been to simplified business start-up processes that has seen time to start a cafe, restaurant or bar small business reduced from 18 months to 90 days. Service NSW has been working with the federal Digital Transformation Agency and the federal Industry department and local council agencies in Parramatta to bring together a unified process across all three tiers of government. This is seen as an exemplar for so called joined up services which avoid citizens having to endure multiple interactions with agencies from all tiers of government.

Gandhi has also rolled out a new payments platform which has been built to enable innovative providers/partners  such as Paypal and Android pay  to offer new services on top of the platform. This broad model is where the federal government is seeking to take its large scale service infrastructure — otherwise known as government as a platform strategy.

Gandhi is also one of many private sector executives to be brought into the upper echelons of the NSW government in a major cultural change that now sees nearly half of the senior executive group leading NSW agencies recruited from outside the public sector.

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