Government must focus on customer service

The government must retain its focus on delivering quality customer service according to conclusions from a webchat between private and public sector leaders hosted by IT company TCS and Civil Service World.

The main issue discussed was whether digital services currently suit the important needs of the public; participants questioned the government’s attitude to delivering customer service and whether services actually aim to provide customer satisfaction.

The panel believed that government is aiming to satisfy the consumers’ needs but are unsure if the current structures in place allow for the delivery of bespoke services that improve satisfaction.

Former chief executive of the National School of Government, Robin Ryde, believes that the government currently lacks a “customer satisfaction mindset”.

He commented, “I don’t think that the public service has much of a history of ‘delighting’ the customer”, and said that this may be because the government has no external competition which pressures a better delivery of services that is apparent in the private sector.

The panel agreed that although both the public and private sector aim to provide assured delivery, accessibility and consumer satisfaction they questioned whether government is best placed to achieve these aims.

A commenter from Leeds asked “is the public sector too disjointed to ever deliver a good experience to customers?

Comparing it to single private sector organisations which fall under a single management seems like a case of apples and oranges when the public sector is made up of tens of thousands of organisations working in separate ways,” the commenter added.

Panellist Mark Kieran, an interim manager who operates in and around the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, said that “[..] delivering for such a wide ranging group as the general public is a far greater challenge than many private companies might face”.

In addition, the panel recognised that the public sector has to provide for the widest range of customers, not all of which are digitally receptive and therefore the government needs to tailor solutions that are accessible to those in most need and provide for those who are elderly, disabled or simply lacking the digital skills and infrastructure.

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