How do you explain what good service looks and feels like? It’s a question we’re asking at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman as we reach out to the public in a dialogue to develop our service charter.
The service charter will be a set of promises to individuals and bodies in jurisdiction, designed to create a modern and responsive service. It will give people a clear understanding about what they can expect from the Ombudsman Service and what will be involved in an investigation, with a focus on better communication throughout the service user journey.
In other fields and the commercial world, giving great service is all about making sure that the customer gets what they want - a product or service - in a way that satisfies them and ensures they return. It’s about delighting the customer and over-delivering on their expectations.
In the ombudsman landscape, it’s a real challenge. As an impartial adjudicator and the final port of call in the complaints system, we uphold about 42% of complaints that come to us, which is about the average for an ombudsman service.
We also have to balance the needs of our service users who are complainants and the public and health service organisations being complained about. We need to be fair to both sides. We were established in law to be impartial and independent, making robust decisions based on facts and evidence.
We want to improve all aspects of our service. One of our biggest challenges is providing a good service when we reach a decision which is not what the complainant was hoping for, so for example when we don’t uphold their complaint. Often people are just glad to see that an independent and fair investigation was carried out, so a ‘not uphold’ outcome may set someone’s mind at rest. Usually though, people feel better about the service if they have ‘won’ their complaint.
With the service charter public engagement exercise, we are seeking to improve and modernise our ways of working. We also want to find ways to define and deliver good service, even if our final decision is not what the complainant was hoping for. We want to be highly rated for the service we give, even if the user disagrees with our decision. A tough challenge indeed!
So please help us develop what good looks and feels like. How can we achieve a superior service, whatever the decision outcome? How can we manage expectations and how should we communicate with people throughout the whole process? Thanks for dropping by to read this blog and please take a little time to complete our short survey. Your feedback is vital to help us improve. We are listening and learning.