Headlines: March 11th, 2008

A new Customer Service Excellence standard has been launched to drive public services that are more responsive to people’s needs. The practical tool was unveiled by the Minister for Transformational Government, Tom Watson, who said it would help to deliver the change in culture that was needed.

The CSE has been designed to encourage, enable and reward public organisations that are delivering services based on an understanding of the needs and preferences of the customers and communities that they serve. Its creators say it aims to get right inside the culture and ethos of organisations to look at what really matters to service users and to improve the whole experience of service delivery.

Organisations can apply to be assessed against the new standard from now on. To be successful they will have to show that services are designed around the needs of the public and do not ignore hard-to-reach groups; that work has been done in partnership with citizens; that there is a link between public service reform and training for staff; that there is accountability to individuals and communites and that they display customer-focus from the Chief Executive to frontline staff.

Mr. Watson said, “The standard is designed to help public services deliver the culture change we are all determined to see. Customer Service Excellence will give organisations vital tools to assess their current service and identify ways in which they can improve to ensure an approach that is truly focused around their customers.”

The standard has been developed in the light of extensive research among service providers and users into what drives satisfaction with public services. It has also drawn on lessons learned from the Charter Mark scheme, which closes to new applications this summer.