A community services perspective

Customer service is about taking care of people by providing professional, helpful and high quality service and assistance before, during and after transactions with customers.

Given the Government reform agendas of consumer choice and control, individualised support and budgets in aged care, disability and mental health services, there is now a strong focus on service providers providing a superior customer experience through each touchpoint in their organisation. Touchpoints are at each point from the moment a potential customer first contacts the organisation, through to when the customer leaves the organisation and its services or programs.

Providers have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the experience matches the brochure and the quality of services provided, along with the cost, is clearly articulated through marketing materials to promote transparency and inform consumer choice and control when making purchasing decisions for care.
Organisations may have exceptional brochures and website; however how people experience the service offered can sometimes not meet expectations. On the flip side of this is a small not-for-profit provider who may not have the marketing skills, expertise or resources, yet who provides exceptional levels of customer service and quality of care for their customers. For consumers, the challenge is determining if the organisation you’re choosing to spend your ‘money’ with will meet your expectations and deliver on their promises.

Word of mouth is one of the most important marketing tools a business can have. Informal communication based on people’s experience is extremely influential, and for some people it is more trustworthy than promotional blurbs on provider’s websites.

The reality of being in the business of community services is services aren’t, and can’t be, perfect. When you’re dealing with people, service experience can’t be guaranteed or replicated between customers and staff. Community services are not the same as hospitality and tourism, but I do use Trip Advisor when I’m booking holidays. In fact, I don’t book a hotel until I’ve read their reviews first. And guess what, I’ve booked to stay with hotels that have negative reviews! What made the biggest difference to my purchasing decision was not the complaint itself, but how the company responded.

Published in the Australian Ageing Agenda in June 2016, Stephen Judd, CEO of HammondCare aged care, has said providers should not be fearful about consumer reviews.

“You might as well not die wondering what people think about your service or how you can improve, sometimes the people who’ve had the greatest complaints about a service become your greatest fans, because you’ve addressed the issue,” he said. A moderated Trip Advisor style website, where consumers could post reviews but the provider also got a chance to respond, could provide useful information to older people, he said.

My Care My Choice aims to provide people and families with accessible, non-biased information on the community services they will be accessing. We open the dialogue between providers and their customers for honest and open feedback.
We have a passion for giving people a voice and believe strongly in sharing stories and experiences to help future users of services get the care which is best for them.

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