Have you come across a customer charter? Many organisations publish their charters with a view to improve the quality of their services.
What is a customer charter? A customer charter is a formal document produced by an organisation to
- facilitate the access to its services;
- make its activities transparent and accountable.
This instrument is created to inform customers on
- how an agency works;
- what kind of services are provided;
- where and who to contact to obtain such services;
- what are the conditions - if any - to receive these services;
- what are the available resources/channels to redress those situations in which the citizen is not satisfied with the organisation.
It represents the commitment of the agency towards
- standard, quality and time frame for service delivery [For example, we will acknowledge your request within three working days and provide you with a request number and a point of contact];
- grievance redress mechanism, transparency and accountability.
Although there are variations according to each organisation, the following can be described as regular components:
- They should contain detailed and specific information on the services provided.
- The rights and duties of customers should be clearly listed.
- The form or manner in which the services should be expected to be delivered.
- A description of how customers' might participate in the process.
- A description of what to do or to whom to address in case of a problem
One of the underlying principles of customer charters is that agencies should be structured to serve the interests of the customers. In this process, inevitably, transparency and accountability should be made available. Thus you must have realised that the main objective of a customer charter in any organisation is to improve the quality of services. This is done by informing customers about the mandate of the relevant agency/organisation, their rights to these services and criteria for qualification, procedures to contact its officials, what to expect by way of services and how to seek a remedy if something goes wrong.
You will note that just as customers have rights, they also have their responsibilities. The customer charter also prescribes the responsibility of the customers, which is essential to fulfil their rights. It does not by itself create new legal rights, but it surely helps in enforcing existing rights.