NHS: Customer Focus in the Public Sector

By S. Vandermerwe and Marika Taishoff

The relevance of implementing customer focus in the public sector is a new and very topical issue of relevance to business practitioners as well as government officials. This case examines one attempt – the UK”s National Health Service – to make a public sector authority more customer focused. It highlights the need and what it takes to accomplish this, and the costs and especially benefits of achieving it. Could a public sector service, whose customers were traditionally “captive”, truly become customer focused? Did it have to? Can principles used in the private sector be transferred and what are the criteria to be used to measure success in achieving customer orientation in the public sector, ensuring that all stakeholders benefit in the process? The case also examines the impact of evolving communication and information technologies – in the delivery of customer satisfaction, in the provision of public sector services generally, and of health care services in particular.

Case abstract adapted from The European Case Clearing House. Full case available at www.ecch.com