(GS PAPER – 4) Quality of service delivery

Quality of service delivery

  • Service quality is a comparison of expectations with performance. A customer’s expectation of a particular service is determined by factors such as personal needs and past experiences. The expected service and the perceived service sometimes may not be equal, thus leaving a gap.

Five Gaps can be identified that may cause customers to experience poor service quality:

Gap 1: between consumer expectation and management perception

  • This gap arises when the management does not correctly perceive what the customers want. For instance, hospital administrators may think patients want better food, but patients may be more concerned with the responsiveness of the nurse.
  • Gap 1 may occur due to the following reasons:
  1. Insufficient marketing research
  2. Poorly interpreted information about the audience’s expectations
  3. Research not focused on demand quality
  4. Too many layers between the front line personnel and the top level management

Gap 2: between management perception and service quality specification

  • Although the management might correctly perceive what the customer wants, they may not set an appropriate performance standard. An example would be when hospital administrators instruct nurses to respond to a request ‘fast’, but may not specify ‘how fast’.
  • Gap 2 may occur due to the following reasons:
  1. Insufficient planning procedures
  2. Lack of management commitment
  3. Unclear or ambiguous service design
  4. Unsystematic new service development process

Gap 3: between service quality specification and service delivery

  • This gap may arise through service personnel being poorly trained, incapable or unwilling to meet the set service standard.
  • Gap 3 may occur due to the following reasons:
  1. Deficiencies in human resource policies such as ineffective recruitment, role ambiguity, role conflict, improper evaluation and compensation system
  2. Ineffective internal marketing
  3. Failure to match demand and supply
  4. Lack of proper customer education and training

Gap 4: between service delivery and external communication

  • Consumer expectations are highly influenced by statements made by management and advertisements. The gap arises when these assumed expectations are not fulfilled at the time of delivery of the service. For example, the hospital printed on the brochure may have clean and furnished rooms, but in reality it may be poorly maintained, in which case the patients’ expectations are not met.
  • Gap 4 may occur due to the following reasons:
  1. Over-promising in external communication campaign
  2. Failure to manage customer expectations
  3. Failure to perform according to specifications

Gap 5: between expected service and experienced service

  • This gap arises when the consumer misinterprets the service quality. For example, a physician may keep visiting the patient to show and ensure care, but the patient may interpret this as an indication that something is really wrong.

Determinants that may influence the appearance of a gap are:

  1. Reliability: the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately
  2. Assurance: the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence
  3. Empathy: the provision of caring, individualized attention to customers
  4. Responsiveness: the willingness to help customers and to provide prompt service

Sevottam Model of Indian Government

  • After over a decade of rapid economic growth in India, the biggest challenge facing policymakers at both central and state levels is to ensure ‘inclusive’ growth so that the gains from increased national income are shared by all sections of society.
  • Central and state governments have recognized this as a priority area, but have shown a lack of imagination in addressing the problem of service quality by focusing mostly on increasing spending and not enough on the question of how effectively the resources allocated are spent. There are large and glaring inefficiencies in service delivery in India.
  • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India, has developed a model for benchmarking Excellence in Public Service Delivery through Sevottam model.
  • The Sevottam model has been developed as a citizen- centric administrative measure to improve the quality of public services India. Sevottam comes from the Hindi words “Seva” and “Uttam” and means excellence in service delivery.

Components of Sevottam Model:

1. Citizen Charter and Service Standards:

  • The first component of the model requires effective charter implementation thereby opening up a channel for receiving citizens’ inputs into the way in which organizations determine service delivery requirements.
  • Citizen Charter is the document where a public sector Organization declares its key services along with delivery timelines and requirements. Sevottam focuses on the implementation, monitoring and review of Citizen Charter to ensure the organization promises what it can deliver and delivers what it has promised.
  • To know more about citizen charter, Click Here

2. Public Grievances Redress:

  • The second component of the model, ‘Public Grievance Redress’ requires a good grievance redress system operating in a manner that leaves the citizen more satisfied with how the organization responds to complaints/grievances.
  • Here Sevottam focuses on receipt, redressal and prevention of grievances.
  • Design and Implementation of Grievances Implementation Process:

3. Service Delivery Capacity –

  • The third component ‘Service Delivery Capacity’, postulates that an organization can have an excellent performance in service delivery only if it is managing the key ingredients for good service delivery well, and building its own capacity to continuously improve delivery.
  • This includes the key pillars which are required to give excellent service and includes Customer Feedback, Employee Motivation and infrastructure.

Intended Outcomes of Sevottam Implementation:

Sevottam Targets

  • Timeliness: time norms for specific services are enumerated in Citizens’ Charter.
  • The services and norms are set as per active discussions with different stakeholders.
  • Effectiveness: a single window system for service deliverables is targeted for delivery to cut down on assessees shuttling from one desk to another to get services.
  • Responsiveness: a robust grievance redress system is needed to listen to assessees grievance as well as redress them timely.
  • Courteous behaviour: norm for behaviour, specially in assessees facing positions, is described in the Citizens’ Charter and pro-active feedback on service delivery is gathered to judge this.
  • Information: facilitation centers and help centers are targeted to meet assessees needs of information.
  • Empathy: public grievance officers are needed to listen to assessees in their time of need.

Seven Steps to Sevottam:

Success of Sevottam:

  • The ability of such an assessment model in influencing service delivery quality will be a function of how tightly improvement actions are linked to assessment results.
  • Further, any assessment model needs to be updated periodically to keep it abreast with emerging developments. Change Management as well as Research and Development have therefore, been identified as important focus areas for running this model, in addition to administration of the assessment process and its culmination in certification or awards.

The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 (Citizens Charter):

  • This bill is also known as Citizens Charter Bill which was a proposed Indian central legislation.It was tabled by V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, in Lok Sabha in December 2011.
  • Though the bill lapsed due to dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha, it provides us insight about how to improve service delivery in India and what are the key issues involved.

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Bill seeks to create a mechanism to ensure timely delivery of goods and services to citizens.
  • Every public authority is required to publish a citizens charter within six months of the commencement of the Act. The Charter will detail the goods and services to be provided and their timelines for delivery.
  • A citizen may file a complaint regarding any grievance related to: (a) citizens charter; (b) functioning of a public authority; or (c) violation of a law, policy or scheme.
  • The Bill requires all public authorities to appoint officers to redress grievances. Grievances are to be redressed within 30 working days.  The Bill also provides for the appointment of Central and State Public Grievance Redressal Commissions.
  • A penalty of up to Rs 50,000 may be levied upon the responsible officer or the Grievance Redressal Officer for failure to render services.

Key Issues and Analysis:

  • Parliament may not have the jurisdiction to regulate the functioning of state public officials as state public services fall within the purview of state legislatures.
  • This Bill may create a parallel grievance redressal mechanism as many central and state laws have established similar mechanisms.
  • Companies that render services under a statutory obligation or a licence may be required to publish citizens charters and provide a grievance redressal mechanism.
  • The Commissioners may be removed without a judicial inquiry on an allegation of misbehaviour or incapacity.  This differs from the procedure under other legislations.
  • Appeals from the Commissions’ decisions on matters of corruption will lie before the Lokpal or Lokayuktas.  The Lokpal and some Lokayuktas have not been established.
  • Only citizens can seek redressal of grievances under the Bill.  The Bill does not enable foreign nationals who also use services such as driving licenses, electricity, etc., to file complaints.

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