Understanding the Drivers - 'Staff kept their promises' fact sheet
- utd-staff-kept-promises.PDF 276 KB PDF
State Services Commission, July 2009. To print/download this fact sheet, use the PDF version attached above.
Understanding the Drivers is a research project that helps us to understand what the drivers of satisfaction and trust mean to New Zealanders.
Forty focus groups were held across the country in 2008 with the general public, Māori, Asian, Pacific and young people (aged 15 - 30 years). Groups were held in main centres and provincial areas. The views of these New Zealanders have provided us with a wealth of information to assist public service agencies to become more user-focused and accessible, and ultimately improve service delivery for New Zealanders.
Participants described a 'promise' as an undertaking or when staff 'do what they say they're going to do'. Most of the examples participants provided involved promises to deliver a service by a particular time or an undertaking to get back in contact with the customer.
[What is a promise?] "A commitment. Got to be done. Follow through. Giving an assurance that it will be done. You trust that it will happen. You rely on them. There's an expectation."
The need for follow through was vital for this driver. Participants reported it was far better to under promise and over deliver than to come in short. In general they felt promises should not be made unless they can be met. Not fulfilling promises could easily damage or even destroy trust.
When a promise is broken, it should be accompanied by an apology, an explanation as to why it occurred and what will be done in the future to prevent a reoccurrence. Some participants felt that it may be appropriate to provide compensation in circumstances where the customer had suffered a loss as a result of a broken promise. Participants said any action to put a mistake right should be done promptly and with minimum impact on the customer.
"They expect you to go through paper work and fill out a whole pile of forms for a dog I never knew existed. I expect them to take it off our records ... if we move suddenly we have another pile of paperwork to take our imaginary dog with us to our new home. It is a silly mistake, but it wasn't ours."
When staff kept their promises it reflected well on the public service as a whole. However participants acknowledged that staff may try their best to keep a promise, but be let down by systems and processes within the organisation.
For Māori, Pacific People and Asian groups the word promise consistently carried a strong expectation of fulfilment.
"Giving an assurance that it will be done. You trust that it will happen. You rely on them. There's an expectation."
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