South Africa


  • Industry: Public Sector
  • Type: Press release
  • Date: 2012/06/20

What is wrong with service delivery in the public sector? 

How often do we put in a day’s leave from work to take care of one of those ‘To-do’s’ listed on the back of an outdated flyer pinned to your fridge door?

It should have been attended to months ago, but the planned family holiday is coming up and the flight tickets need to be finalised. The car licence needs to be renewed and there is still a fine or two outstanding, or perhaps the rates bill for last month has hit the roof and payment is now due. You need a full day, because you simply don’t know how long it will take to get this matter sorted and you can’t afford to go back a second time.


So, what is wrong with this picture? Service delivery more specifically, the challenge of the public sector institutions to meet their customers’ needs and expectations. Allow me to elaborate by asking another question: ‘Would there be negative public perception if the specific institution(s) understood what their ‘value-added’ service comprises, what customer need(s) they are addressing, and how effectively they are using the channels at their disposal to deliver on their ‘value proposition?’.


When you think of service delivery in general, terms like business models and service delivery models come to mind. These terms are often used in the private sector. Most companies have them documented in some form or another.


 A typical business model would consider the following aspects, among others:


  • Customer segments – For whom is the organisation creating its products or services?
  • Value proposition – What value is the organisation delivering to the customer?
  • Customer relationships – What type of relationship does each customer segment expect from the organisation?
  • Channels – Are the appropriate channels used to deliver the value proposition to the customer segments?
  • Key activities – What are the key activities required to satisfy the customer’s needs?

Understanding the nature and constraints of these aspects would not only put an organisation’s purpose in perspective, but also provide answers to the what/why/when/where and for whom you are conducting your business activities. Do you focus on your value proposition or does most of your time and energy go into managing resources, business partners and activities that are not closely related to your value proposition?


Once a business model has been formulated and a common understanding has been achieved, the next step is to focus on the activities that drive the value proposition. Each of the activities needs to be analysed in terms of which service/product is offered to which customer segment, through which channel. Equally important are the business partners and resources required to execute these activities. All of these elements provide the building blocks for an organisation’s service delivery Model.


Applying this to the public sector, the first question when defining a business model would be: What type of service is being delivered to different customer segments, based on the understanding of their needs? The first part of the question might be easy to answer, but the second part is where most public sector institutions get stuck. Do they really understand Joe Public’s needs, and perhaps more importantly, what are they doing about it?


Starting with customer segments, most public sector institutions would offer services to the public at large, but unfortunately the public consists of people with different needs, routines, levels of income and education. Each of these groupings would constitute a different customer segment. Even though the value proposition might be the same for all of these groupings, the types of customer relationships, channels of communication and key activities performed might be different. For example, the service offered to someone with limited education would need the provision of dedicated resources to assist with the task at hand whether it is the completion of an application form or the answering of questions.


The service offered to the senior executive would be somewhat different providing access to an internet platform that is available at all hours of the day would be more suitable. It is clear that the type of customer relationship, channels through which you communicate and the key activities performed would be different for the two customer segments used in my example. However, the value proposition would still be the rendering of an efficient, friendly and fast service to the customer.


A properly formulated business and service delivery model is as relevant to the public sector as it is to the private sector. Understanding your service delivery model is key to the success of any service organisation, including the public sector. It is about the value you add to your customer.