Will this be the year of reckoning for service delivery?
By Jan Coetze
Managing Director Headway Consulting
Our President, H.E Dr. Hage Geingob told his Cabinet colleagues, parliamentarians and all those that work in Public Service that 2018 is the year of reckoning. That sounded ominous and very harsh. However, it isn’t harsh at all.
We as Namibians should be able to expect excellent service delivery from our office bearers and the Commander-in-Chief has a right to demand the highest level of service delivery from his team especially given that they are doing something as important as serving the nation. We are a nation with so much going for ourselves, but also still with a myriad of challenges ahead of us.
We should welcome such tough talk and demand for good service delivery and tangible results. Namibia doesn’t operate in a vacuum, it never has, but it was often treated as such. No one had to care about providing service delivery as there was no other choice for consumers and clients. This however has changed drastically. Not only has social media arrived and made its presence felt. More and more companies are opening branches in Namibia. Get bad service when getting new tyres, there are now at least ten different places to choose from in Windhoek alone. Want better service or quality of food at a restaurant, just go elsewhere.
Simply providing a service or selling a product is no longer enough. Good customer service has become essential. Before you know it your organisation could be named and shamed with good reason online on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or on local media messaging boards, leaving you to try and rebuild a reputation. This could very well be the year of reckoning for every business in Namibia. The economy has slowed down, people have less disposable income and will definitely not spend where they are not treated with respect, dignity and have a good feeling about the transaction or service.
Admitting and knowing that service delivery is essential to your business is the starting point. How do we actually improve service? Keeping proper records, being available online, answering your email queries and leveraging technology to improve service delivery is a great way to differentiate yourself. Banking in Namibia used to be a nightmare, long lines, forms to fill in and never being totally happy with the service you received. Banking apps, online banking and service call centres have changed that experience tremendously. Streamlining processes and offering service delivery we could only dream off a few years ago.
However, the financial sector is not alone. Everyone from insurance companies to healthcare providers and retailers have improved their service delivery and experience for their customers and clients. All of them use technology to improve service delivery.
This does require investment and automating processes, but through standardised systems like ITIL, (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) a detailed set of practices for IT Service Management (ITSM) comes into its own, as it focuses on aligning IT Services with the needs of business. It may sound scary, but to survive using technology is essential. It’s not always just about the bottom line as some organisations, especially service oriented organisations are judged on service delivery alone. Their day of reckoning, whether a Ministry, public enterprise or for-profit organisation will be judged on its customer service.
Without a well-thought out and process oriented game plan to improve service delivery utilizing the tools available it truly will be the year of reckoning for many organisations and not just for the Public Services.