Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Service standards

The Ethical Framework identifies the minimum service standards that all government sector agencies and employees are expected to deliver to their internal and external customers.

Customers may be “internal” (within a workplace, agency or the government sector) or “external” (such as members of the public, businesses and Local Councils). [1]

These service standards are measures of the quantity and quality of the services that are provided by government sector employees to their internal and external customers.  The standards cover the actual delivery of the service, the standards of employee behaviour, and the availability of customer feedback and complaints processes.

Service delivery standards

The Ethical Framework identifies minimum standards of service expected of all agencies to be:

  • Provide services fairly with a focus on customer needs
  • Be flexible, innovative and reliable in service delivery
  • Engage with the not-for-profit and business sectors to develop and implement services solutions
  • Focus on quality while maximising service delivery.

Employee behaviour standards

The Ethical Framework identifies minimum standards of service expected of all employees to be:

  • Consider people equally without prejudice or favour
  • Act professionally with honesty, consistency and impartiality
  • Take responsibility for situations, showing leadership and courage
  • Place the public interest over personal interest
  • Appreciate difference and welcome learning from others
  • Uphold the law, institutions of government and democratic principles
  • Communicate intentions clearly and invite teamwork and collaboration
  • Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny
  • Be fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.

Customer feedback

Customer feedback, including customer complaints, is a vital source of information that can be used (i) to address the concerns of the aggrieved individual, and (ii) to identify ways to improve service delivery and service effectiveness for future customers.

Best practice customer feedback systems address:

  • Informal complaints: Customers with concerns or criticisms about the service or their treatment are encouraged to make informal complaints as soon as possible to the relevant staff or manager; and those employees are empowered to resolve the matter – wherever possible – immediately
  • Formal complaints: If the relevant staff or managers are unable to rectify the situation for the customer without delay, or if customers prefer to make a complaint in writing, then the customers are provided with details on:
    • How to make the complaint
    • How an impartial investigation will be undertaken
    • When a courteous reply that addresses the substantive complaint can be expected.

International best practice standards

Best practice agencies may wish to compare their standards of customer service with international best practice. 

The Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA) has two internationally accredited Certification Programs designed to enhance service standards in private sector, not for profit and government organisations.  These are the Certified Customer Service Organisations Program and Australia’s leading Complaint Management System Audit and Certification (International Standard for Complaints Handling Processes: AS ISO 10002—2006). 

The International Customer Service Standards identify four characteristics of agencies with international customer service best practice: [2]

  • A Service perspective in relation to customers
  • A Financial perspective in relation to customers
  • An Operational perspective in relation to customers
  • A Learning and Growth perspective in relation to customers

NSW government sector agencies (such as the NSW Police Force) have been certified as performing at one or both of these international customer service standards.

[1] Note: Although agencies provide Ministers with advisory, administrative and other services which must be of a high standard, Ministers are not customers.  Agencies and employees are subject to the direction and control of a Minister and are also accountable to their Minister – this is not the case with customers.
[2]. See the Customer Service Institute of Australia