Government Improving Public Sector Customer Service


The Government, through various units within the Cabinet Office, is implementing and executing programmes geared at improving customer service delivery among public sector entities.
One such initiative is the Citizens Charter Programme, an adaptation of the British Government’s model, where agencies that show exemplary service excellence are awarded a charter mark.
Principal Director for the Customer Service Programme at the Cabinet Office, Dwight Uylette, explains that the Citizens Charter highlights the service standards that the organisation has, and what citizens of the country can expect from that organisation.
He adds that, currently, 121 Government entities’ Citizens Charters are either being developed or have been published.
“Once an entity puts its Citizens Charter out there, they are now held accountable to the dictates of that Charter,” Mr. Uylette explained.
“There is room for recourse within the organisation, all the way up to senior management, and if you are dissatisfied with how the organisation is performing its service requirements, you can report the matter to the Cabinet Office Standard’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, or the Public Defender, where you can, at times, seek financial recourse,” he informs JIS News.
He adds that the Citizens Charter Programme is quite enforceable and puts stringent requirements on service performance.
To further measure and strengthen customer service delivery, Mr. Uylette notes that the Cabinet Office has in place a National Customer Service programme, through which Government entities are frequently monitored and assessed, and are also rewarded for demonstrating exceptional customer service.
“Entities are required to have some form of sensitisation and reorientation of business processes, procedures and approach to the concept of service delivery. Once these entities are deemed to be sufficiently developed in these areas, they are assessed to see if they are ready to be charter marked, or have a Citizens Charter in place,” Mr. Uylette points out.
“We know organisations, from time to time, have their own internal procedures to strengthen business. But, we ensure that entities have certain things in place, like services register, mystery shopping and substantive testing of all the work that they are doing,” he says.
A major initiative which drives Government entities to improve on customer service delivery is the Public Sector Customer Service competition, which rewards entities for outstanding customer service performance.
Mr. Uylette says that while the entities should do their best to deliver service excellence, the need to reward those who excel should also be recognised.
The biennial competition began in 2001, and is based on customer surveys, telephone testimonials and direct voting on the JIS website. It is a demonstration of Government’s commitment to the vision of a public sector that puts the customer first, he says.
He also points out that a major element of the competition involves a survey. A survey team is deployed to certain points to liaise with members of the public and provide information.
The alternative mechanisms were implemented to allow persons to participate in the voting and information gathering exercises, and to give their feedback about public sector customer service.
The competition serves a dual purpose of recognising good performance, and providing the Cabinet Office with the means to determine or craft an intervention for those organisations that need improvement.
“An interesting feedback from the Public Sector Customer Service competition is that Government, on a whole, needs to improve service innovation in terms of how it delivers the service, and the traditional ‘come in and join the line and wait’ (policy) will have to be minimised, as people have so many competing priorities that as much as you can facilitate, they will appreciate,” Mr. Uylette remarks.
Other considerations from the public was for entities to improve service offerings, and evolve with new and growing demands.
“It is critical and important for public sector entities to exercise excellent customer service to enhance national development, attract investments and maintain a fit, healthy and productive society,” Mr. Uylette states.
The National Land Agency (NLA) won the Prime Minister’s Trophy for the ‘Best Customer Service’ in this year’s competition.

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