Using a dynamic customer-tuned approach to setting service standards would help local councils optimise resource allocation, minimise costs and achieve the best possible service outcome for customers and council, according to the findings of a recent benchmarking study of New Zealand local councils.
The recent “mini-study” was part of CTMA’s wider “Benchmarking for Better Service” programme and focused on target response-times and service-levels achieved, by local councils. The purpose of the study was to establish a response-time benchmark for councils, and provide a platform to learn where there may be common challenges, and identify opportunities to share practical service solutions.
Study director, Paul Linnell, explains “Set too high, service-level targets can place pressure on council resources, drive inconsistency and be costly to maintain, but set too low, they can promote inefficiencies, erode customer satisfaction and reduce community support.”
“A good first step is to use the organisation’s best judgement as to what customers might expect from each type of service offered. But customer needs, wants and expectations are constantly changing, and very often an organisation’s ‘best judgement’ of customer expectations is influenced more by anecdotal experiences than by quantitative measurement.”
In the study findings, CTMA describes how results from customer-experience tracking programmes can be combined with actual response-time data to drive a dynamic customer-tuned approach to setting service targets. This approach can help local councils optimise resource allocation, minimise costs and achieve the best possible service outcome for customers and council.
Although none of the respondent councils is currently achieving this level of sophistication in setting and evaluating their target response-times, many indicated that this is one of the most challenging areas they currently face.
Linnell confirms “The identification that this improvement opportunity exists is perhaps the most exciting finding from the study. It represents significant potential for councils get the best from the resources they have, save costs, and maximise customer satisfaction and support.”
“Furthermore, if data was compiled nationally using this approach, it would provide valuable insight for councils to assess local variations and customer preferences in a national context.”
Background: “Benchmarking for better service”
“Benchmarking for better service” is an ongoing collaborative programme to help participating public and private sector organisations establish and maintain a comprehensive benchmark of service levels, working practices and strategies for customer service and customer experience management, and find better ways to improve customer experiences.
Built on more than ten years experience benchmarking customer service functions, the programme sets out to identify what it is that successful organisations are doing more of (or less of) in order to achieve their success.
About CTMA New Zealand Ltd.
CTMA is a service quality improvement firm that provides a range of consulting and research services to help organisations build loyalty and advocacy by improving service to customers. CTMA works with organisations to develop cost-effective management tools to monitor and support the ongoing management of customer processes. In addition to its client-specific services, CTMA conducts customer service benchmarking and best-practice studies to help public and private sector organisations improve the effectiveness of their customer relationship strategies.
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CTMA New Zealand Ltd