The NDIS: Are your Support Workers ready to be Client Service Representatives?

With the NDIS now shifting from a trial stage to full roll-out, disability service providers are experiencing transformational change impacting almost every part of their organisation.

A model that has stood the test of time for analysing how well an organisation is positioned to achieve its intended objective is the McKinsey 7S Framework. It is divided into hard and soft elements. The hard being strategy, structure, and systems. The soft being shared values (often viewed as the culture), style (leadership style), skills, and staff.

Pre-NDIS, disability service providers contracted by the government received block funding to deliver disability services; and the individual requiring disability services was usually assigned by the government to a disability service provider. This meant that the disability service provider had one client - the government.

If you were a disability service provider pre-NDIS, your marketing strategy (if you had one) was most likely focused on fundraising activities. You probably didn’t have a marketing specialist on your executive team, you were unlikely to have a strategic or tactical marketing plan, social media wasn’t a priority, a competitive market environment didn’t really exist, and you didn’t train your support workers to be brand ambassadors.

“You now have hundreds of clients who have a choice”

With clients now making their own decision about their disability service provider, almost every element of the McKinsey 7S Framework is touched. Marketing strategies need to be developed, internal structures need to ensure marketing is not an afterthought, customer relationship management (CRM) systems are required, shared values that put clients at the very centre of every decision are vital, the leadership style will set the tone for customer experience behaviours at every level of the organisation, the sales and customer service skills of your support workers will be on show every time they interact with a client, and every staff member needs to be a brand ambassador and believe that they can fulfil that role exceptionally well.

Whilst getting your strategies, structure, and systems in place are important, having your client-facing team members comfortable wearing a dual-hat (support worker / client experience worker) is critical. I’m not suggesting they don’t care for their clients. Of course they do. But is caring on its own enough, when your business is operating in a competitive environment. Caring may well be the most important attribute your client-facing team members have; however other skills and knowledge are also necessary.

Are your client-facing team members ready to be brand ambassadors?

The following questions will help you answer this question:

  • Do they understand your organisation’s mission, vision, and values?

  • Can they articulate your organisation’s unique offering in less than 30 seconds?

  • Do they hold any beliefs that are preventing them from being successful in this new environment?

  • Do they have confidence in their abilities to learn new skills to be successful in this new environment?

  • Do they have a growth mindset that allows them to learn new skills and embrace the changing environment?

  • Are they resilient to endure the challenges that they may face as their sector and organisation goes through change?

Early indicators are suggesting that the NDIS has been positive for individuals accessing disability services. This evaluation found 76% of participants were satisfied. Disability service providers are delivering vital services to individuals so they can lead successful lives and achieve their aspirations within their communities.