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NSW Service has delivered on its promise, commissioner says

New South Wales citizens are overwhelmingly happy with service levels from government — at least in terms of paying bills and getting a driver’s licence. The state’s customer service commissioner has cited a satisfaction rating of 98% after two years of consolidation and reform in an interview with The Mandarin.

Michael Pratt was charged with wrangling the public sector to improve the interface between citizens and government services in 2012, after several years as a senior executive in the banking sector. Service NSW consolidates agencies and customer service contact points in physical one-stop shops and web and mobile platforms.

Pratt says then-premier Barry O’Farrell realised “if government did something about this in a serious manner it would really resonate with citizens”.

“The way we put it together was, first of all, to be the voice of the customer in government, so to be a provocateur if you like, of what citizens are thinking and saying, and what they want. Secondly, to really lead a lot of the digitisation thinking in government because, as you’d appreciate, a lot of the answers of these challenges lies in … technology. Thirdly, was to really bring together a whole customer strategy across government, of which the first stage of that has been the design, development and implementation of Service NSW,” he said.

Pratt outlines the challenges of reform, from technology systems to improving the service culture at all levels of government. He says government must improve its IT literacy, and NSW public service commissioner Graeme Head has made it a priority.

Digital transactions are growing at a rapid rate: of the 24 million transactions a year, a quarter are done online. “I’ll be moving to increase that percentage quite significantly over the next couple of years,” said Pratt.

“I’m stating the obvious, but the two things that have made all the difference in terms of the implementation we’ve done are the people that I’ve brought in. Most of them are ex-bankers because they’ve done it before. They know what to do, but then all the people that have come into our service centres — 60% of them are actually from agencies already, but what we have done is put them through a really rigorous assessment process around customer DNA,” he said.

More at The Mandarin: How a banker delivered happy customers to the NSW goverrnment

Author Bio

Jason Whittaker

Jason Whittaker is managing editor of The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He has written for and edited political, business and culture publications for a decade. He spent two years as editor of sister Private Media publication Crikey.