14 Sep

Here for our community: Karen Wilkinson

Every day hundreds of people work behind the scenes to keep Prince Edward County running. Over the next several months, we will profile a few of the people that are ‘here for our community.’

We continue the series by talking with Karen Wilkinson, the Corporate Customer Service Coordinator.

Can you start by giving a brief overview of your job?

Customer Service is the first point of contact for visitors, residents, and co-workers who don't know where else to go. We try to provide as much assistance as possible and try to answer their question or connect them to the proper department. We also track inquiries so they do not get lost in the system and then we can follow up on issues or inquiries.

The Clerk’s Office created this position in 2012 to give people a central place they could go to get answers and assistance. I see my job as a way to guide people in the right direction and try not to transfer them around if I can avoid it. I try to be as helpful as possible.

Providing customer service includes helping my coworkers when they don’t know who they should talk to or where to find information such as files or by-laws.

How long have you worked with the County?

I started working with the County in 1998, 22 and a half years ago. I was an administrative assistant in the planning and building department. It was a frontline position so provided a lot of experience towards this position. It included some of the same work as my current role but with more focus on planning and building inquiries. In 2012 I took over my current position.

What do you like most about the job and working for the County?

I really enjoy helping people. I like going home at the end of the day knowing that I was able to assist someone. It’s very rewarding answering people’s questions, looking into their inquiries, or directing them to the appropriate staff so they are not bounced from one person to another.

Even though we have a website and so much is online, people still want to talk with someone on the phone or in person. It’s helpful if we can have a conversation. It gives me a chance to follow up and ask different questions so that I can figure out exactly what they are looking for. They don’t have to go on a wild goose chase; we can make sure they get the information they are looking for as quickly as possible.

How has COVID-19 impacted your work?

When I originally took this job, I didn’t want to be behind a barrier. I wanted to be accessible. I wanted to be out in the open and able to meet with people face to face.  Since Shire Hall reopened, I have had to adjust being behind a barrier. I understand why we are doing it, though. It’s important for the health and safety of both me and the public.  Also, with the building being closed for several months, it was different only being accessible by phone.

I would also say that the types of questions changed during COVID-19. We had to become mini-experts on where people could go to get services, where they could get help, and where they could get tested.

What do you enjoy most about the County?

I like living in a small town. I like going to the store and meeting people I know. I lived in Kingston before moving to the County 30 years ago and I never knew my neighbours in the city. I also like having the space of living in a more rural area.

Read more Here for our Community Profiles:

Tim Jones
Amy Stather