This short learning programme highlights some of the most important issues and considerations as far as effective and efficient customer service is concerned.
‘Too often customers’ voices penetrate the walls of bureaucracy with difficulty. The lack of information and complex regulations are barriers to customers in dealing with government. All too often it is left to individual citizens to work out for themselves what services are available, and what they are entitled to. Too many government forms are complicated and not designed with the user in mind. Too many letters are written in a stilted, non-personal style, which is off-putting to the person who receives it. Finding the right person to speak to - particularly someone who can give friendly, helpful advice - can be very trying, leaving customers feeling helpless, frustrated and uncertain.
A fresh approach is needed: an approach which puts pressure on systems, procedures, attitudes and behaviour within the Public Service and reorients them in the customer’s favour. It involves creating a framework for the delivery of public and municipal services, which puts customers first and enables them to hold public and municipal servants to account for the service they receive. Such a framework should free up the energy and commitment of public servants to introduce more customer-focused ways of working.’
It is widely acknowledged that successful public institutions need to have a customer-oriented culture. This implies that a customer orientation is the basis for organisational learning that results in superior value attribution and greater customer satisfaction. That is, becoming customer oriented allows public institutions to acquire and assimilate the information necessary to design and execute strategies that result in more favourable customer outcomes.
In simple terms, a customer orientation has something to do with satisfying the expectations of the customer. Concern for the wishes and needs of customers becomes the focus for every decision. What the customer wants, the institution provides. In government quality service is equated with how well the job is done and especially with whether the customer is made to feel good about the whole operation.
A customer orientation should be instilled in officials who deal directly with the public. The outcome of this process should be to develop a positive customer performance perception and, ultimately, favourable behavioural outcomes. This culture should be instilled in employees through training programmes and through the dissemination of cultural norms.