Top risks identified by Community, NFP and Government boards in 2018. Risk 4: Service Quality

Top risks identified by Community, NFP and Government boards in 2018. Risk 4: Service Quality

The Governance Evaluator 2018 Governance Capability Benchmark Report analysed board evaluation responses from over 70 boards comprising almost 700 members across multiple industries.

This month we investigate service quality; the issues uncovered in our research, as well as tips and resources for ensuring your board is leading a culture that supports the delivery of safe & quality services.

What is Service Quality?

The board has a key role in overseeing the quality of the services that are delivered by the organisation. Boards have a responsibility to monitor service quality with the same rigour and attention that they give to corporate and financial performance. The leadership and oversight of the organisation’s core business should be reflected in the strategic and business planning processes. The dimensions of a quality service need to be defined for each sector/organisation.

Governance Evaluator assesses service quality in terms of three key themes; (i) service quality reporting, (ii) service quality planning & (iii) service quality systems. Each theme is investigated in greater depth throughout this resource.

Within the Governance Evaluator, each theme is explored via a series of targeted questions, each with four possible responses:

  • No: Represents an early capability assessment of the board in that area. Any responses in this category highlight the need for board capability improvement and education.
  • Yes, but qualified: Indicates that board capability is developing and not yet at a mature governance level. Again, these point to opportunities for focus and education.
  • Yes: Represents a mature governance capability within the board and the criteria wholly satisfied, as judged by the participants.
  • Unsure: Measures a construct other than overall board capability as it reflects individual members of the board or leadership team that are unsure of the board’s level of functioning.

Service Quality Reporting

The key question for a board to ask in governing the quality of their services is “Do we provide high-quality services?” The follow-up question is “How do we know we do this?”

The board has a clear responsibility to monitor the quality of the services provided to customers. To do this, the board needs to have an agreed definition of service quality, with identified key dimensions and/or quality goals to which key high-level data can be linked and reviewed periodically.

The data reviewed by the board needs to be of a sufficiently high level to give the board an overview of the key systems while not overwhelming the board with operational detail. These system measures need to be a mix of data that both reports past performance, and simultaneously provide early warning of potential problems.

2018 Benchmark Data key finding:

Q: Does the board receive assurance that the major systems that support the delivery of quality services are effective (e.g. complaints management, incidents management, client experience, staff training and development programs)?

Community, NFP and Government Boards Benchmark Report for  Service Quality Reporting in Service Quality

Fig 1:  2018 evaluation findings for Service Quality Reporting

Only 43% of boards are satisfied that the board receives the necessary information to understand the quality of the organisation’s service provision.

Top Tips for Service Quality Reporting

  • It is incumbent upon boards to be properly informed about the quality of service provided by their organisation. It is the board’s responsibility to receive appropriate reports which combine qualitative information, such as real consumer feedback and stories at the board room table, and quantitative data, such as well-analysed statistics and commentary from customer satisfaction surveys. It is also important for boards to expect commentary and possible solutions or at least deeper analysis where issues are identified.
  • A good starting point for many boards is to agree who are their customers/consumers/members. They may be receivers/purchasers of your services or members who pay a fee to be represented, or they may be event sponsors who purchase advertising and space.  They are often different from influencer key stakeholders such as funding bodies, regulators and other organisations. Once agreed, it is then important to agree on service standards, measures and outcomes (including trends, benchmarks and commentary) and how often these are to be reported.
  • A clever tip for helping boards to be more consumer-centric in their decision-making and service quality roles is to have an empty chair at the boardroom table where their imaginary consumer/customer/member/community member sits. Every time a decision is made, look to the chair and imagine what would they say about the decision and service quality.

Links to Resources

Governance Evaluator has sourced some resources which we think you might find useful to build any board’s capabilities in this area:

  • AICD Good Governance Principles and Guidance for Not-for-Profit Organisations here.
  • Governance Evaluator customers can access the following, and other useful resources via the platform here.
    • Governance Manual – 4.3 Service Quality Reporting Template
    • Resources Manual – 4A Service Quality Fact Sheet

Service Quality Planning

The board needs to demonstrate clear leadership in setting the expectations and culture in relation to service quality. This can be done through policy, appropriate planning, and organisational structure.

A board that is actively engaged with staff in the formulation of strategic quality objectives for the organisation sends a clear message that quality is a central concern. Strategic quality objectives can cascade down into organisational quality plans, team quality plans, and individual work plans. A small number of focused objectives for quality that are disseminated throughout the organisation will ensure targeted activity towards a common goal.

Clear responsibilities and accountabilities need to be articulated and evaluated for relevant committees and positions. This will ensure that staff and committee members are clear about their key functions and reporting requirements in relation to driving service improvement.

2018 Benchmark Data key finding:

Q: Does the board regularly review the direction and priorities of quality services?

Community, NFP and Government Boards Benchmark Report for  Service Quality Planning in Service Quality

Fig 2:  2018 evaluation findings for Safety Quality Planning

51% of boards are satisfied that the board regularly and formally considers the quality of services provided and ensures they are aligned with the strategic and business plans.

Top Tips for Service Quality Planning

  • Ensure that the results and scores of service quality trends and benchmarks are considered in strategic planning and review of present strategy processes. This can be done via a paper or presentation from executives about annual trends and outcomes.
  • Hold service quality think-tanks or one on one meetings with your least satisfied consumers/customers/members and ensure their feedback is included in future planning and service provision. An important follow up is to ensure the attendees are made aware of the outcomes.

Links to Resources

Governance Evaluator has sourced some resources which we think you might find useful to build any board’s capabilities in this area:

  • DHHS strategic business planning guidelines and case studies for community organisations can be accessed here
  • Governance Evaluator customers can access the following, and other useful resources via the platform here.
    • Governance Manual – 4.2 Service Quality Policy/Framework
    • Governance TV – Dr Alison Brown – How to lead culture at a board level for quality and safety

Service Quality Systems

The board has a responsibility to ensure the support systems that underpin the delivery of services are robust and effective.

The board needs assurance that key systems such as risk management, incident management, complaints management, staff credentialing, professional development, and information collection and reporting are working as required by organisational policy. This can occur through rigorous review and evaluation of the effectiveness of the relevant policy or audit processes.

2018 Benchmark Data key finding:

Q: Does the board receive assurance that the major systems that support the delivery of quality services are effective (e.g. complaints management, incidents management, client experience, staff training and development programs)?

Community, NFP and Government Boards Benchmark Report for  Service Quality Systems in Service Quality

Fig 3:  2018 evaluation findings for Service Quality Systems

Only 47% of boards are assured that the organisation has effective systems to support service provision quality.  These systems may include elements such as complaints management, incident management, client experience, staff training and development.

Top Tips for improving Service Quality Systems

  • Establish a quality committee which takes responsibility for ensuring the appropriate systems are in place.
  • Gain a strong understanding of the corporate and sector skills and experiences of directors, and ensure the most appropriately skilled directors are leading the quality committee.
  • Make sure there is a clear and agreed dashboard report for the board from the committee highlighting the service quality qualitative and quantitative reports including trends, benchmarks and commentary.

Links to Resources

Governance Evaluator has sourced some resources which we think you might find useful to build any board’s capabilities in this area:

  • Governance Evaluator Development & Skills Matrix for health, aged care and human services boards – click here for a demonstration
  • Governance Evaluator customers can access the following, and other useful resources via the platform here.
    • Governance Manual – 4.1 Service Quality Checklist