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YOUR EMPATHY PROPHET ™ - ISSUE 2/ NOVEMBER 2008 For nearly 30 years a continuous theme government has been an emphasis on performance measurement as a means of achieving improvements in public sector organisations. One result has been the introduction of many - so- called ' customer- focused' - initiatives. Yet according to Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, the public who need multiple services are ' left to join up the various islands of service'. Many citizens want a single point of contact for a range of services. The public are not interested in whether their needs are met by Department X or Agency Y, they just want a good, joined- up service where X and Y talk to each other and share the information the public have provided ( O'Donnell, 2006). What is needed is greater insight into the needs, behaviours and motivations of citizens, businesses and the potential for sharing ' front-office' infrastructure, such as contact centres and one- stop shops, in order to achieve better citizen outcomes and greater efficiencies ( Varney, 2006). As a result, ministers and public officials have stressed the need to be ' relentlessly customer- focused' by applying best practices found in the private sector. Critics argue that performance management systems are not transferable to the public sector. This is because the term ' customer' and ' citizen' do not have the same connotations. The notion implies that customers have a choice whereas citizens do not. While the success of a private sector organisation is measured by profit, this may not be a concern of a public sector organisation. According to this argument, citizens should not be involved in evaluating public products and services. For example, patients should not evaluate the outcome of the treatment they receive. This is the doctor's job. In other words, citizens should accept what is offered by the state. Furthermore, the public sector is a non- profit institution which will continue to operate even if it makes no money. Therefore, the success of a public sector organisation should be 14ACADEMIA THE INFLUENCE OF ERIC ON THE PUBLIC SECTOR When it comes to what people want from it, the public sector is not that different to the private. It is how one achieves this - and the measurements needed to do so - that can be problematic. DR YUKSEL EKINCI, BSC, MSC, MA, PHD Yuksel is a Reader in Marketing at Oxford Brookes University. He is one of the UK's leading scholars on service quality and customer satisfaction measurement. His research includes academic and applied marketing studies which concern quantitative data analysis, customer satisfaction measurement, CRM, market segmentation and services branding. The application of his research covers a wide range of service industries including retail, telecommunication, call centres, hospitality, tourism, banking, insurance and public sector. Yuksel has been actively involved in managing private sector consultancy projects and public sector research projects. He is an active researcher and his articles have appeared in journals all over the world.

© 2008 HARDING & YORKE measured instead by efficiency, effectiveness, fairness and its ability to improve quality of public life. This argument, however, misses the point as to why performance measurements are used in private sector organisations in the first place. Successful implementations of the performance measurement systems such as ERIC ( The Empathy Rating Index Company ™ ) serve the same purpose in a public or private organisation: better performance. It is true that the private sector operates in a competitive market and the most important performance measure is profit, but profit is achieved through a number of means. The main driver of profitability is quality of product and service. This leads to customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and profitability. By the same token, loyalty is established, if customers feel that they get a better quality product and service for their money. Importantly, quality is achieved through the successful implementation of performance measurement systems. Over the years, such programmes have been beneficial not only for increasing profitability of private sector organisations but also achieving efficiency, boosting employee morale, job satisfaction, productivity and quality. Customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and profitability are simply the outcome of the performance management systems. Interestingly, employee morale, efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, equity, openness, integrity and quality are essential values for public sector organisations, too. We know that government aims to accomplish these values in order to offer ' better value for money' for taxpayers. Private sector organisations implement performance measurement systems in order to increase quality of the product and service. Quality would not only have a positive impact on customer loyalty but also the quality of public life. Similarly, better education system and NHS services would improve quality of the public life. This commentary suggests that although outcomes of performance indicators are slightly different in public and private sector, all start with measurement. If you don't measure, you don't manage. The dilemma is choosing a suitable measure or benchmark. Some models may not be effective for assessing performance and some fail to give directions for higher efficiency and productivity. ERIC has consistently proved to be a powerful and reliable performance measurement tool because it correlates with profitability which is one of the most important performance outcomes in the private sector. Although public sector performance measures are largely driven by efficiency, fairness, and productivity, they are antecedents to profitability of private sector organisations. From its unique methodology and ability to improve performance, the ERIC measure will likely to correlate with efficiency, productivity, openness, accountability, equity and quality of public life which are essential for public sector organisations. Thus, we are confident to suggest that the higher the score on ERIC, the higher the performance of the public sector organisation. Lord Darzi's 2008 review recognises that whilst the last 10 years has been about increasing capacity in the NHS we should now increase quality and personalisation and there is a major move in other areas of the public sector to do away with ' avoidable contact'. These are exactly the initiatives that can be supported by Empathy measures and development initiatives. REFERENCES O'Donnell, G ( 2006), Speech to the 21st Century Public Services Conference, Putting People First, 6th June, available on http:// www. nationalschool. gov. uk/ news_ events/ psrc2006/ downloads/ speech_ gus_ odonnell. pdf Varney, Sir D. ( 2006), Service Transformation: A Better Service for Citizens and Business, A Better Deal for the Taxpayer, HMSO. 15 ... ministers and public officials have stressed the need to be ' relentlessly customer- focused' by applying best practices found in the private sector...