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In recent years, the challenge of public service has captured a place on the agenda of public organizations, with the realization that a high level of service will raise trust in the organization, create a sense of belonging and encourage joint responsibility. The development and assimilation of a service culture in a large public organization poses a number of dilemmas to those leading the process:
One – Where to start? An attempt to carry out a complete horizontal is not feasible in terms of resources, and it is also liable to lead to a dispersion of efforts and loss of energy for the process. Moreover, public organizations must deal with pressures and many conflicts of interest and are in the public eye, which makes it difficult to carry out extended and comprehensive processes requiring investment and effort, the results of which will be seen only after a long time. The process must produce generate rapid and tangible achievements.
Two – how to gain the support of the organization’s management and key executives for the process? How to generate executive commitment on all levels, reflected in organizational messages and priorities, and how to obtain the support of the employees? The dilemma of how to arouse and motivate civil servants to adopt a service-oriented culture is a critical question in the process. An organization which imposes messages from above by preaching will never succeed in motivating employees to truly connect with the process, identify with the shared goal, and strive to realize it.
Three – how to create a uniform service language throughout the organization – in the way it treats the public, handles processes and conveys messages? This adjustment is essential for establishing a relationship of trust with the customer. Many customers come to the organization expecting a poor, bureaucratic, and not always considerate service experience, and they are pleasantly surprised by an efficient and sensitive service experience. In order to turn this surprise into trust, it is important for the customer to experience a uniform attitude in all his contacts with the organization.
Service is a long-distance race. At the same time, rapid, short-term, and visible results can be achieved through attentiveness and prioritization. By identifying the leverage points, major influence can be achieved with relatively little effort and willingness to reconsider basic assumptions. Quick results generate positive energy, and help to continue driving the process within the organization.
A focused service-oriented approach enables guiding efforts to generate change and create a uniform mode of behavior in the organization, so that the public’s experience will be good and uniform in all its contacts with the organization. After formulation, the concept and key values of customer experience are conveyed to the leading executives in the organization. The meeting with the executives is aimed at gaining their support for the process of change, inspiring organizational discourse on the subject of service quality, and generating executive commitment to the assimilation of service processes.
is important to prioritize in defining the processes or organizational units to be focused on during each step, based on considerations of effort and resources, and weighting them according to their expected benefit and visibility. The “visibility” of the change is a very important element for the recipients of the service as it is for the organization’s employees. Outwardly, it obviously creates satisfaction and empathy for the organization, but no less importantly, it helps internally by establishing confidence that the change is feasible. It bolsters belief in the process, and helps gain the support of other groups of employees – even the most cynical. It boosts the change process, and helps generate the energy the organization will need later on in the process.A process of selection will be carried out by involving the division managers and making the organization’s personnel responsible and partners in outlining the path for change:
• Mapping the customers’ needs and the main service challenges for each unit compared with the formulated concept. The team will define needs and challenges, and estimate the consequences of dealing with them in terms of resources and benefit.
• Drawing a benefit/effort map: This map will classify each service according to the degree of benefit customers will derive from its improvement (low/high) in terms of raising the quality of the service, improving efficiency, how critical the service is to the customer, visibility of the improvement, etc. – and according to the degree of effort that needs to be made to achieve the improvement (low/high), in terms of time, costs, “disruption” of the organization’s regular activity, and the executive energy the change involves.
• Prioritization of activities and departments: recommend priorities in the assimilation and decision-making process. We usually recommend starting with service to external customers, while extending the implementation to internal organizational service at a later stage. Raising the level of service for external customers creates a service culture and encourages the extension of this culture to management and internal services for the organization’s employees in order to create an employee experience.
Devising and integrating tools and processes for measuring service – under the assumption that what is not measured is not managed. While mapping the service challenges and prioritizing the processes for dealing with them, we recommend an interim stage to be implemented as soon as the concept is launched, in which the organization, together with the unit managers will define measurements of service and measuring tools which can be currently assimilated in the various departments, even before vertical activity begins in their units. The thinking processes, definition of measurements and the measuring process itself create awareness and motivation which sets the change in motion. The unit managers will check how their service is evaluated by customers – customer response time, whether customers were given all the necessary information, whether contact was initiated with them, or whether they had to call several times, and so forth – and what tools are at their disposal for measuring these elements, and for estimating their customers’ satisfaction with the service (such as information systems data, public queries, surveys, observations, etc.).
Implementation of the process in the divisions varies from one division to another, depending on the characteristics of the unit and its organizational-executive readiness for the process. As a rule, the process combines adjustment of the operational system – processes and systems – with the service concept, conveying the concept and skills for managing the service to executives at various levels for leading the process, and imparting service-oriented communication skills to the division team.
1) Adjustment of the work processes and support tools to the service concept: Evaluation of the existing service processes from the customer’s perspective, taking into account the service concept – whether they are focused on the customer, easy and effective; provide rapid responses and solutions; facilitate closure of handling; etc. Recommended of necessary changes to be put in place, while addressing the work of interfaces and reciprocal relations with other units involved in the department’s services and the technological infrastructure: operational system, knowledge management system, query management systems, etc. Special emphasis is currently placed on adapting the service processes to multi-channel service (frontal, telephone, kiosks, the website, e-mail, applications, chats, SMS, fax, etc.). This is to enable the customer to choose, while being diligently consistent about the information and service in all the channels (style, terms), and the continuity of the service between them: the customer can begin to receive service on one channel and end it in another channel.
2) Imparting know-how and tools for service management: service management is more than just management plus service. It is a specific managerial skill that requires focus. It includes special tools and skills, such as the ability to take a system-wide view of the situation, while being sensitive to the individual case, providing a personal example, and demonstrating modes of dealing with situations by applying service-oriented values, managing measurement and control processes, leading processes of learning and drawing conclusions, motivating employees to provide high-quality service, and maintaining long-term high performance tension. These are not easy tasks, given the element of burnout involved in working with customers and the lack of infrastructure in the public sector for providing optimal service. Developing executives for service management includes training in tools for day-to-day service management and development of routines for managing service in frameworks, such as observations and professional feedback, team meetings with value, creative briefings, instructional analysis of events, crisis management, motivation and leveraging success, recognition of effort by employees and appreciation for achievements, measures for maintaining energy and enthusiasm, etc.
3) Conveying a concept and skills for managing the relationship with the unit’s customers: the encounter between the employee and the customer, the moment of truth when service is provided, and the decisive effect on the customer experience. The service provider’s communicational abilities and his skill in containing anger, setting limits in a service-oriented manner, initiating a complete solution that will prevent problems from recurring in the future, etc. all come into play at this moment. These skills need to be honed and put into practice, and we train employees to apply the methodology we developed in an experiential and enjoyable manner.
The challenge of being a service provider involves providing a service that is high-quality, treats the public with respect and is equal to all. In the aim of enabling people with disabilities to enjoy an excellent service, the organization must be sensitive to their needs and make the service accessible, thereby providing a both a high-quality service and maintain a high level of satisfaction. We provide guidance in raising awareness of the special needs of the disabled, becoming familiar with the various disabilities and their accessibility needs. We train personnel to use suitable communication skills and to adopt methods for handling people with disabilities in order to provide a high-quality service experience to the entire public at large.