Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Service governance

Delivering services to the customer service standards identified in the Ethical Framework requires a whole-of-organisation approach to customer services – it cannot be left to the frontline service providers by themselves.

Achieving the Ethical Framework service standards depends, at a minimum, on the agency having a strong customer focus in its:

  • Corporate culture and leadership
  • Measurement.

Corporate culture and leadership

Organisational culture consists of the unwritten and unspoken ground rules about “how we do things around here” that exist in every organisation. These ground rules are learned on the job, and are very powerful: they shape the behaviours of employees, teams and organisations – often unconsciously – and can take several years of continuous action to modify. 

Key elements for NSW government sector agencies of a customer-focussed culture include:

  • Leadership: Senior executives show employees that they fully support a customer focus – they “walk the talk”
  • Policies, systems and procedures: The agency’s policies, systems and procedures are designed and operate in ways that make the customer the core business of the agency
  • Employee support: The agency’s recruitment, training, recognition and promotion of employees are based on the NSW Public Sector Capability Framework.  The agency has a socially and culturally diverse workforce so that services can be provided sensitively to the socially and culturally diverse members of the population of NSW
  • Customer feedback and complaints: The agency’s customer feedback and complaints system (i) empowers employees to address customer concerns quickly and effectively, and (ii) informs senior management of trends that are used to improve the design and delivery of services
  • Metrics: The agency’s measurement system provides (i) program managers with information on the efficiency, effectiveness and ethical standards of the service, and (ii) the public with measures of customer satisfaction, service results and community outcomes.


Agencies recognise the importance of good measurement and reporting systems and practices for their financial performance (reported, for example, in Treasury’s annual NSW Budget), workforce performance (reported, for example, in the Public Service Commission’s Workforce Information Warehouse) and policy and program performance (reported, for example, against COAG [1] and NSW 2021 State Plan [2] targets).

Best practice agencies also measure their levels of customer satisfaction, levels of compliments and complaints, and rates of first-call resolution of complaints. This information is used to measure how well particular services performed in the past, and to identify trends and correlations that can be used to improve service delivery to current and future customers. These agencies use metrics that matter to their customers.

For example, there can be significant differences between the drivers of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction, and it is an important strategic decision for senior executives to determine whether to apply their limited agency funds to the drivers that maximise customer satisfaction, those that will minimise customer dissatisfaction, or some mixture of those drivers. [3]

Best practice agencies have real-time customer data which allows frontline managers and staff to:

  • Respond in real time to prevent or reduce customer waiting times
  • Identify cycles in the demand for services and to plan for peak periods
  • Gather evidence of good practice and redesign underperforming work practices
  • Identify high performing teams so their achievements can be recognised and celebrated.