Charter Mark scheme was introduced in UK to make public organizations conscious towards the quality of services provided by them. A set of six criteria was developed and the different public organizations were judged on the basis of these criteria by an evaluating agency. Those public organizations which scored well on the basis of these criteria were given the “Charter mark”. Charter Mark was a certification which was achieved by the public organization as a proof of quality services provided by them. Thus it helped improve the image of the government organizations and in improving the service delivery to the customers. The criteria which were enunciated in this scheme were following:
- Criterion 1: Set of standards and perform well
- Criterion 2: Actively engage with your customers, partners and staff
- Criterion 3: Be fair and accessible to everyone and promote choice
- Criterion 4: Continuously develop and improve
- Criterion 5: Use your resources effectively and imaginatively
- Criterion 6: contribute to improving opportunities and quality of life in the communities you serve
Getting Charter Mark was considered to be recognition and independent agencies were created for evaluating the public organisations. The Public Services Committee in UK commented in 1997 that the citizens’ charters have “made a valuable contribution to improving public services”.
The Bernard Herdan Report to Review the Charter Mark Scheme
In 2006 The Bernard Herdan Committee was constituted in UK to review the working of Charter Mark Scheme. The name of the report given by it was “The Customer Voice in Transforming Public Services”. One can have a beautiful insight into the performance of the citizens’ charters as a whole & the Charter Mark scheme in particular in UK by reading what this committee had to say:
“The Charter Mark Scheme is something of an unsung success story. Charter Mark holders are generally very positive about the scheme. They feel it is a valuable management tool in driving up standards and that it helps motivate members of staff. There is much anecdotal, but little hard evidence of the charter Mark’s effectiveness. The Charter Mark Scheme continues to prosper, but percentage penetration of the whole public sector – and therefore overall impact – remains quite low. There is now a very low level of public awareness of the Charter Mark, and a general skepticism about quality schemes and awards was displayed by members of the public that we met in focus groups.
However, on balance, people do believe that the holding of some form of quality scheme or awards might influence choice were this applies. It is to be noted that most public services do have performance standards and report to Parliament and the Public on how well they have met these. Most public services providers do also measure levels of customer satisfaction however this is often not particularly rigorous. Comparisons even within sectors are difficult to make, with a few notable exceptions. We have also recognized that there has been research in a number of countries on the fundamental drivers of customer satisfaction. Such research has been undertaken in the UK and generated consistent conclusions. In summary, the key drivers of customer satisfaction within public services are considered to be:
- Delivery of promised outcomes and handling problems effectively;
- Timeliness of service provision;
- Accurate and comprehensive information, and progress reports and provided;
- Professionalism and competence of staff and treating customers fairly;
- Staff attitudes – friendly, polite and sympathetic to customers’ needs”.
The recommendations of this committee were accepted and in 2008 “Customer Service Excellence Scheme” was launched. In this scheme the public organisations were required to get “Customers Service Excellence” by the independent assessment agencies. The criteria adopted for this independent assessment include following five criteria:
- Customer insight
- Culture of organization
- Information and Access
- Quality of Service