Headlines: October 11th, 2004

The public sector is providing the same quality of service to its customers as its supposedly more sophisticated counterparts in commerce, despite lagging behind in the important areas of communications and personal service. The findings, published today, come from a study of public attitudes on customer service.The research was commissioned by communication services providers, Damovo and Ericsson. Those taking part were asked to rate the overall quality of customer service in the public sector and commercial organisations either as poor, average or good. Thirty-eight per cent of consumers rated customer service as ‘good’ in both sectors. They also rated the quality of customer service agents and call response times as virtually identical in the two sectors.

The study shows, though, that public services still lag behind business in some areas. The private sector scores more highly, for example, in the range of options available to contact a customer service representative. But Paul Renucci, managing director of, Damovo UK, says the results show the private sector does not have a monopoly on good customer service.

He said the findings echoed the recommendations in The Gershon report about improving information infrastructure and making services more accessible to the public. Only by implementing more advanced contact centre services, he said, would the public sector be able to offer the same depth of service as commercial businesses.

Specific results show that the telephone is the preferred method of contact for most customers but new communication methods are becoming increasingly important. More than a third of people said they preferred using e-mail to make enquiries and receive responses. Respondents in the 18 – 30 category were comfortable using instant messaging and there is also support for automated telephone response services, offering a touch-tone menu with a link to a customer services representative. Almost two-thirds of consumers recognised the systems’ ability to shorten the time they spend on hold.