SA Water’s redeveloped front counter within its Adelaide CBD-based building will provide a new face-to-face translation service for customers, with in-house interpreters capable of speaking a collective 50 languages.
Customers who find it difficult to communicate in English are able to indicate a language they’d prefer to speak – prompting one of the employees, fluent in that language, to help facilitate a conversation.
The utility’s in-house interpreters are capable of speaking a collective 50 languages including French, Hindi, Italian and Mandarin, as well as Australian Sign Language.
SA Water’s General Manager of Customer and Commercial, Anna Jackson, said the initiative taps into their people’s diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
“More than 20 per cent of South Australians speak a language other than English at home and with around 1,500 people working in our organisation, this is a wonderful way for us to be reflective of the communities we serve,” Ms Jackson said.
“Our sustained customer research identified the overwhelming majority of people who are culturally and linguistically diverse place great value in being able to access in-house translators.
“They shared a powerful sentiment – “when I see something in my language, it feels like somebody cares about me” – and this resonated with our people, who felt compelled to champion their own cultures by supporting our customers.
“What makes me most proud about this initiative, is that it was conceived and developed by our own people, in recognition of the opportunity to do more for our customers that need that extra support.
“Now, when a customer comes in with a query about their account and would like to communicate in their preferred language, our front counter team simply contacts one of the interpreters who can speak that language, and they’ll be on hand to guide the customer through their query.
“Our front counter remains important for customers who experience difficulty when accessing other forms of communication channels such as digital or over the phone, and with this added layer of support, we can make the experience easier for them while solving their query faster.
“We also offer a free, external interpreting service for customers getting in touch with us over the phone, who connect them to our team based in Adelaide and work through their request together.”
SA Water’s in-house interpreters work across a range of roles within the organisation such as engineering, science, information technology and finance.
The initiative is contributing to one of 39 key actions in SA Water’s Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, which guides how the utility embraces and celebrates the active role of diversity in the way it operates and delivers safe, reliable water services.