Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation

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1 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation Introduction Consulting people is not a new idea. What is new is the growing prominence and frequency of consultation activities, particularly those involving large numbers of participants. As the prominence of consultation increases, it is sometimes unclear precisely how client consultation helps managers make better decisions. Managers need to know that, and how to design the consultation process accordingly. Client consultation is linked to the measurement of client satisfaction. You must identify the gaps between what clients expect or need from the organization and the service they feel they are actually receiving. Definition In the context of delivering quality services, consultation is a process that permits and promotes the two-way flow of information between clients of government services and the government. Consultation also makes Canadians more aware of the services government provides. Goal and Objectives The goal of client consultation is to discover your clients' opinion of the services they receive from your department and the way these services are provided. The objectives of consultation may range from sharing information to developing and implementing solutions to a problem. All participants must understand the objectives of the consultation from the outset. Rationale

2 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation You should consult with your clients in order to seek improvements to delivering quality services; increase their satisfaction with the service rendered; better understand their needs for and expectations of the services you provide; help them understand the services you provide; manage their expectations where these exceed the organization's limitations or mandate; and accommodate their desire to be consulted about the services they receive. Client consultation allows you to devise public policy solutions; improve service, and reduce or eliminate services that clients do not value; meet emerging client needs; build partnerships; and target high service priorities so that you can allocate resources efficiently and effectively. Success Factors The fundamental elements for meaningful and credible consultations are: shared understanding of the purpose; integrity, mutual respect and trust; clear, open and transparent communication;

3 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation opportunity for clients to influence the decision-making process; commitment to respond to expressed client needs and concerns involvement of staff at all levels; management accountability; valid tools and methods; and sufficient resources. Performance Indicators Performance indicators show whether a client consultation process for quality services improvement is effective. Indicators to determine if you are "doing it" You'll know you are consulting when: client consultation is included in the business plan; sufficient resources are allocated; reports are generated, provided to senior management and acted upon; and a means is in place for client recognition and feedback. Indicators to determine if you are "doing it well" You'll know you are consulting well when: clients continue to participate willingly in the process; clients understand the issue and provide their response; managers accept the ideas received;

4 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation results are usable and goals are met; and partnerships are developed and maintained. Strategic Considerations Client consultation as a way of doing business Consultation must move beyond the major policy issue or initiative: it must become part of the routine way in which you do business. When planning, managing and evaluating a consultation strategy, you should consider issues relating to the critical nature of input, and the money and time needed to consult clients. The option and impact of not consulting should also be carefully considered. Client consultation in the decision-making process Consultation in some form may be appropriate in any or every phase of a decision-making process. A carefully planned strategy will likely identify the need for many forms of consultation throughout the decision-making process. Each consultation must have a strategic purpose: it must ensure that the decision is sound, that implementation is successful and that the desired impact is achieved. When planning client consultation, you should consider which people or groups can help define a desirable impact, and judge whether or not a desirable impact has been achieved; who must be involved or consulted to ensure that implementation is successful; who must be involved as the actual decision is being made, and whether these people should be informed or more directly involved in making the decision; and informal or formal consultation initiatives that you are already planning and how these initiatives fit within your strategic plan for decision-making.

5 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation To develop credibility and client trust in the consultation process, you should channel feedback to the clients to let them know how their input has influenced the decisionmaking process. Client consultation in implementing new initiatives When you begin major initiatives, you should develop a consultation strategy that is coordinated within and among government departments as appropriate. Client Consultation Process The approach to consultation will vary according to the issue as well as to time and resource constraints. In the ideal consultative process, managers and those involved at the initial stages of the exercise are still there at the end and are held accountable for implementing the outputs. They ensure the outputs are translated into actions as quickly as possible and that a feedback mechanism is put in place to follow up on the consultation. To develop and implement a client consultation, you should follow these key steps, of which preconsultation is perhaps the most important. Identify services and clients Identify the services about which you want to consult. Identify the internal and external clients for each service. Begin preconsultation Determine the issue, mandate and objective. Set the ground rules for the process and subsequent talks. Identify the players, ensuring a representative selection of both users and stakeholders. Agree on timeframes.

6 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation Determine resources available. Ensure that public opinion research approval and contracting follow Treasury Board policy. Preconsultation may include: a client presurvey; a review of existing records and information; focus groups with front-line staff who have direct contact with clients; and client focus groups that reflect the diversity of clients. Clarify objectives Involve your clients and staff. Focus on the real issues. Obtain commitment from all parties to the purpose of the consultation and their role in it. Review to ensure objectives are realistic. Determine measurement techniques These may include: interview methods; questionnaire/survey methods; ongoing feedback mechanisms; focus groups that reflect diversity of clients; and polling.

7 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation Analyse results Collate. Analyse. Draw conclusions. Prepare a report. Develop an improvement plan based on consultation results Set up new services, or modify, reduce or eliminate existing services. Develop, adjust or modify service standards. Assign responsibility for implementation. Establish timelines. Follow up Evaluate the effectiveness of improvement by measuring client satisfaction on an ongoing basis. Communicate findings to those consulted Conclusion Consultation with Canadians is intrinsic to effective public policy development and service to the public. It is the responsibility of every manager in the Public Service. For satisfactory consultation, all levels of the organization must buy into it. Consultation also requires good planning, research, analysis, advice and feedback. Incorporating the responsibility for

8 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation consultation into the management accountability framework will emphasize the management responsibilities for client consultation. References British Columbia. Listening to Customers: An Introduction. British Columbia. B.C. Hydro. Public Consultation. The Bryce-Lambert Forum on Excellence in Government. Building Effective Consultations -- Final Report. Ottawa, Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Immigration Consultations Report. Ottawa, Canada. Human Resources Development Canada. Information Gathering System. Canada. Industry, Science and Technology Canada. Consultation Guide: Our Knowledge Builds Competitiveness. Canada. Labour Canada. Client Consultations: Update. Ottawa, Canada. Revenue Canada. A Framework for Consultations in Revenue Canada (draft). Canada. Revenue Canada. A Practical Guide to Consultation. Canada. Revenue Canada. Quality Partners (case study). Canada. Revenue Canada, Excise/GST. Consultations with Respect to the Implementation of the Goods and Services Tax - Final Report (case study).

9 Quality Services - Guide I - Client Consultation Canada. Treasury Board of Canada. Consultation Guidelines for Managers in the Federal Public Service. Canadian Petroleum Association. Public Consultation Guidelines for the Canadian Petroleum Industry. Calgary, Consultation Group on Employment Equity for Persons with Disabilities. Case Studies on Effective Practices in the Employment of Persons with Disabilities. May École nationale d'administration publique. Les politiques gouvernementales et la consultation publique, audiocassette. Patterson, R. Anne, Rod A. Lohin and D. Scott Ferguson. Consultation: When the Goal is Good Decisions. Ottawa: Canada Communications Group/Canadian Centre for Management Development, Public Policy Forum. The Consultative Government of the 1990s. Salter, Liora and William Leiss. Guide to Consultation and Consensus Building Schein, Edgar H. Process Consultation, 2nd edition. Science Council of Canada. The Limits of Consultation: A Debate Among Ottawa, the Provinces and the Private Sector on Industrial Strategy (discussion paper). Kingston, Ontario: Queen's University. Versteeg, Hajo. A Case Study in Multi-stakeholder Consultation: The Corporate History of the Federal Pesticide Registration Review or How We Got from Here to There.

10 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction Introduction A critical component of quality service is client satisfaction measurement. The following proposes strategic principles and ongoing processes for measuring client satisfaction. Definitions Client satisfaction The client's perception that the service provider's performance meets or exceeds his or her expectations. Client satisfaction measurement The assessment of client expectations and of the actual and perceived quality of service. Goal The goal of client satisfaction measurement is to determine the level of client satisfaction with government services and the delivery of those services. Context Measuring client satisfaction involves creating the proper environment for: conducting open, honest, transparent and ongoing consultations with clients; involving employees (as clients and providers) in the entire process; and remeasuring client satisfaction regularly to determine trends and the effectiveness of improvements that have been implemented.

11 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction Important client satisfaction measurement elements include: knowing what clients want; understanding client expectations; designing services to meet clients' needs; setting service standards; setting performance measurement indicators; empowering staff to meet clients' needs; and communicating service and quality standards to clients. Rationale A key component of a quality service culture is client satisfaction measurement. Gaps that may exist between performance and client needs and expectations can be identified by: improving the quality and effectiveness of government services; determining service relevance and importance; setting service standards by - getting feedback from clients - informing clients of the department's commitment to provide a certain level of service - providing feedback to staff; identifying opportunities for new services and for service adjustment, which could mean continuing, discontinuing, realigning or transferring services; and

12 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction optimizing resource allocation and use to balance client expectations with departmental mandates and available resources (people, money and time). Success Factors Successful client satisfaction measurement incorporates the following principles: Knowledge You should understand which services being delivered are important to the clients and to the government. Leadership Strategic support at the senior executive level as well as at all levels of the organization is necessary. Tailoring Make sure that the element measured relates to specific information needs, that it is measurable and that the information is meaningful. Simplicity Complex approaches are expensive and need a high level of expertise. Simple approaches can elicit practical and useful information. Diversity By using different measurement instruments, you can offset the limitations of each approach. This strategy also produces multiple lines of evidence, thus supporting more solid conclusions. Cost effectiveness

13 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction Only essential information should be gathered. Efficiency and economy should be key criteria when deciding how to gather information. Sampling techniques and readily available data should be used to the greatest extent possible. Reliability The measurement instruments should be credible, accurate, valid, sensitive to change in clients' attitudes and consistent over time. Regularity It is essential to measure client satisfaction on an ongoing basis. Such regularity enables organizations to keep up to date with the environmental changes taking place and to assess the impact of changes implemented to improve client satisfaction. Action You should develop improvement strategies based on measurement results. Note: Low complaint rates may not necessarily mean client satisfaction. Some dissatisfied clients may not complain. They may not know how, where or to whom to complain, or their location may make it difficult for them to complain. Some clients may exact "revenge" for poor service by spreading negative word of mouth instead of providing feedback to help organizations improve. Performance Indicators At one end of the spectrum, there are indicators to measure the client satisfaction process itself, while at the other end, there are indicators to measure actual client satisfaction. Indicators for the measurement process client response trends

14 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction number of client surveys undertaken number of measurement tools used consistency of findings action taken as a result of the survey amount of client feedback change in staff awareness of client needs, change in staff commitment and initiative with respect to quality service resources realigned in response to client feedback findings and resulting measures reported to senior management and to the client in a timely manner Indicators of client satisfaction Many different indicators can be used to measure client satisfaction. The choice of indicators will vary with the service being provided. The following are some common performance indicators. Facilities accessibility telephone access professional appearance hours of service signage use of technology

15 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction Communications clarity availability use of plain language Personnel courtesy helpfulness competence empathy clarity fairness assurance responsiveness Services received timeliness value appropriateness adequacy quality Overall

16 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction value for money satisfaction likelihood of recommending the service or revising it reliability Strategic Considerations Various departments have already done much client satisfaction measurement work. The federal Public Service as a whole is not beginning a new journey to measure client satisfaction. The success of client satisfaction measurement depends upon the direct and active support of senior management, the training and engagement of staff, and the continual link between client satisfaction measurement and program delivery. Strategic considerations should include the following: Executive "buy-in" and leadership Client satisfaction measurement will succeed only if clients and staff are both convinced of the active support of departmental leaders. Departmental leadership must use client satisfaction measurement to drive change and improvement in service delivery. Communications Communication must be open, honest and transparent. Employees should be involved early in the design process and be cognizant of both goals and end results. Everyone involved in the process should respect proprietary information.

17 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction Education of senior management, employees and clients Early in the process, talk to others who have experience in measuring client satisfaction, research available literature, consult with internal and external experts, and refer to case studies. Many training courses on measuring client satisfaction are available. These may help employees design client satisfaction measurement tools. The shift to a client-driven organization requires a change in mindset. For instance, when answering a telephone call where the caller has dialled an incorrect number, rather than simply saying that there is no one there by that name, a client-focused employee would help the caller find the correct number, and perhaps even transfer the call. Shape service expectation boundaries and focus measurement on service delivery. Government direction While planning the measurement process, determine whether any changes in government and departmental direction could affect your initiative. Ensure that your plan accounts for contingencies, so that financial and/or human resources are used effectively and efficiently. Resources Sufficient resources - financial, human and time - must be allocated. Implementation Process The following seven steps offer a practical approach to measuring client satisfaction: Step 1: Determine who the clients are.

18 Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction Step 2: Determine the objectives for measuring client satisfaction and define the related information needs. Step 3: Develop a measurement strategy. Step 4: Gather, analyse and report information. Step 5: Use and communicate client satisfaction information. Step 6: Review the measurement practices. Step 7: Repeat the process. A handy checklist at the end of this guide will help you with this process. Conclusion Measuring and monitoring client satisfaction is not an end in itself. It is a means to improve service to the public and program performance in general. Client satisfaction measurement provides invaluable information for responsive and effective client consultation. A comprehensive approach to measuring client satisfaction and using satisfaction assessments can bring considerable benefits to the organization if such an approach is seen, as it should be, as a management tool and not as a way to judge individuals' performance. If properly used, it can help you develop a client orientation throughout your organization.

19 Quality Services - Guide III - Working with unions Quality Services - Guide III - Working with unions Introduction Good union-management relations are essential to the success of quality service initiatives across the federal Public Service. Efforts must be made to build good relationships if we hope to deliver quality services and attain higher levels of employee and client satisfaction. Consulting With Unions On Quality Service Initiatives (Principles) Consultation has long been the foundation of good union-management relations. It is a joint process of gathering and providing information, and obtaining input from those involved in anticipated changes to procedures and methods. Effective consultation is about partnership; it implies a shared responsibility for and ownership of the process and the outcome, including acceptance by all affected by the change. Consultation should be based on openness, honesty, and transparency of purpose and process. All parties share the responsibility for making consultation work and for encouraging its acceptance by all. The process should be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. It should be motivated by a commitment on all sides to share information, to be open to the ideas of others and to work together to solve problems and resolve differences. Consultation is not a vehicle for communicating management decisions or for generating predetermined outcomes. It must not be used, nor be perceived to be used, as a way to erode management rights or union and employee rights gained through collective bargaining. The process requires a major investment of resources, time and energy; however, the benefits are considerable. Steps For Success (Strategy For Improvement)

20 Quality Services - Guide III - Working with unions A climate that supports early and full participation from local, regional and national unions is essential. Most departments have existing union-management consultation committees, also known as joint consultation committees. Quality service initiatives, like any contemplated change in the workplace, should be brought to these committees for discussion. However, this type of consultation is not sufficient to ensure success. Joint work site committees are the engine for successful workplace initiatives. Once work site groups are in place, they should follow fundamental principles for effective group work. Some of these principles include clear mandates for the participants, agreement on common goals and interests, and a clear understanding of the expectations of the parties. Participants should have a realistic idea of how much time the process is likely to take and should have their supervisors' agreement that these tasks form an integral part of their duties and are reflected in their workplans and performance objectives. If participants lack training or experience in working in groups, they could receive training in communication, group dynamics, problem solving, consensus building and other process skills. In addition, if some participants have previous experience with total quality management or quality of work life initiatives, it is important for them to acknowledge these experiences, whether positive or negative, and to learn from them. A facilitator can help the participants to take stock of themselves and to develop ways to build on their strengths and reduce their weaknesses. The work site groups should establish good feedback and communication mechanisms to ensure that everyone involved - which could include clients, employees, unions and management - can exchange consistent, accurate, and timely messages. Workplan For Implementation (Checklist) Once contact has been made with the unions and the work site group has been established, the group members should: develop terms of reference or ground rules for working together;

21 Quality Services - Guide III - Working with unions negotiate the agenda and process of consultation; establish targets, methods, timeframes and performance indicators; identify constraints and ways to overcome them; draft a statement of principles, which could be: - an agreement to work together to make things better - an agreement to find workable solutions in a workable way or - an agreement to work together to get buy-in from all concerned; identify training needs and training solutions regularly; recognize and build on areas of success in previous initiatives with unions, employees, management and clients; establish mechanisms for self-assessment; and establish mechanisms for feedback and communication with all parties affected by the quality service initiative and modify goals accordingly. Milestones and Achievements (Performance Indicators) Performance indicators will normally reflect the targets established by the organization and the goals agreed to by the working group for the individual quality services initiative. They could include tangible efforts made to establish or produce: work site groups with active union, management and employee participation, including client groups where possible and appropriate; terms of reference; a framework for working together;

22 Quality Services - Guide III - Working with unions common goals and methods of implementation; communication and feedback mechanisms; joint training sessions; and joint announcements and celebrations of success. Timeliness Union-management consultation is an ongoing process. In any quality service initiative, all parties should be involved as early as possible. Best Practices Networking and learning from the experiences of others can alleviate the frustration that often arises when people feel they are re-inventing the wheel. Work site groups should establish a best practice exchange to collect and publicize examples of practices that worked (and that did not work) within the department, in other government departments and in the private sector. Work site groups may wish to invite management and union representatives from areas where joint initiatives exist to discuss their experiences and the lessons they learned. Existing quality service networks at the municipal, regional or provincial levels can also be useful places for sharing best practices. Tools In addition to referring to the principles governing good union-management consultation outlined earlier in the paper, working group members can also rely on other consultative forums and tools to help them get things done. Examples of consultative forums already in existence include: the National Joint Council of the Public Service of Canada;

23 Quality Services - Guide III - Working with unions the Mediation Services office of the Public Service Staff Relations Board; quality service networks at the national, regional or interprovincial, provincial and municipal levels; joint technical committees; the Air Navigation System Commercialization Advisory Board; the Coast Guard Commissioners' newsletters and hotline; departmental joint national/regional and workplace safety and health committees; and the Air Navigation System National Advisory Committee. Other resources include: labour relations specialists in departments and bargaining agent representatives; training and consultation services offered by universities, colleges, the Canadian Centre for Management Development, Training and Development Canada, Consulting and Audit Canada, and private sector institutions; and Treasury Board and departmental inventories of best practices. References Anderson, John. Total Quality Management: Should Unions Buy into TQM? Ontario Federation of Labour. TARP Project, Canada. Treasury Board Secretariat. Focusing on the Clien t: The Quality Services Initiative. Ottawa, June 20, Crossman, Bert. Labour Relations in a Downsizing Environment. Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, 1995.

24 Quality Services - Guide III - Working with unions Wright, Ruth. Managing Labour Relationships in a New Economy. The Conference Board of Canada.

25 Quality Services - Guide IV - A Supportive Learning Environment Quality Services - Guide IV - A Supportive Learning Environment Background and Context In an environment of ongoing fiscal restraint, there remains the need to respond to the public's growing service expectations by redefining government service. We must improve efficiency, enhance service, constantly review and improve our programs, and focus on continuous learning for all employees. All departments are at different stages in this process. For a learning strategy to succeed, managers must be committed to it. It is their responsibility, and they are the driving force. What Constitutes A Supportive Learning Environment? A learning culture and attitude. Management support. Methods in place to measure success in meeting learning objectives. Measurably greater client satisfaction. Success in meeting performance indicators that have been developed in consultation with clients. Encouragement and use of continuous feedback. Principles The three pillars of quality service are client focus, employee involvement and continuous improvement. In a quality service environment:

26 Quality Services - Guide IV - A Supportive Learning Environment all learning has a quality service focus; learning supports business plans, which support the quality services initiative; the learning strategy and environment focus on client satisfaction; learning activities should promote a quality service environment; and learning is a continuous process. People learn in three ways. The percentage of skills and information learned breaks down as follows: learned on the job: 50 per cent; learned from others: 30 per cent; and learned through formal training: 20 per cent. The Action Learning Model Components Of A Learning Strategy To implement a learning strategy, you should position the organization in terms of its quality services initiative;

27 Quality Services - Guide IV - A Supportive Learning Environment determine the type of work force needed to support the quality services initiative; determine the actual capacity of your work force; identify gaps; encourage employees with specialized knowledge to share it; and use partnerships, teamwork, coaching and other activities to use limited resources to their fullest. Resources No new funding is available for these learning initiatives. Departments are expected to reallocate resources to respond to their quality service training needs. Timeframe Departments must produce a three- to five-year training strategy for inclusion in their business plans by March Annex A Learning Strategies OBJECTIVE The learning strategy will ensure departments have a work force with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to meet the results outlined in the quality services initiative. This will be achieved through sub-objectives. These are listed in no particular order, as each objective could be in progress at the same time.

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