Understanding our employees’ views on improving customer service

About the research

The research investigated NSW Government employees’ views on improving customer service across government.

These insights were developed from qualitative research conducted during 12 90-minute focus groups, held in the Sydney CBD, Parramatta, Gosford and Tamworth in July and August 2019.

Employees were recruited based on a mix of non-executive roles, agencies and locations.

Summary of key findings

  • Around a third of employees felt there has been a noticeably stronger focus on customer service since March 2019, with almost all aware of the broader cultural change that has occurred in the NSW public service over the last 10 years.
  • Many employees needed clarification on who the customer is and how non-customer facing staff should interpret the focus on customer service.
  • Most employees welcomed the articulation of the Customer Service Commitments and felt that they were motivating and something that they should be aspiring to deliver as public servants. Others were concerned the Commitments seem transaction-focused and they are keen to see some clarifications made to ensure relevance for their own roles.
  • To improve customer service, employees were looking for more training on how to consistently provide better customer service; enough resources to meet that aspiration; improved ICT; and appropriate resourcing and support for more customer research and engagement.
  • Employees believed the change will be largely driven from the top and that senior staff need to demonstrate a willingness to listen carefully and make brave decisions about scarce resources that will sometimes involve individual ‘losers’ to get better outcomes for the majority.
  • Awareness of the Department of Customer Service (DCS) was currently mostly limited to those in central agencies and policy positions.
  • There was a mixture of views about DCS from positive expectation that it will provide insight, training and support including funding for key initiatives, through to trepidation that it will interfere or lack respect for existing proven practice rather than add value.
  • Employees expected DCS to bring real expertise to the table and there is some interest in this, with Service NSW and Transport for NSW regarded as public service success stories.
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