Old whine in new bottles

June 21, 2008

The latest copy of PINpoint, the magazine from the CIPFA Performance Improvement Network, Issue 5, June 2008, includes an interesting compilation from the blogs that are normally in the Network’s mailings but one I must have originally skirted over caught my eye. In theory it should be here but the links didn’t work for me: http://www.cipfanetworks.net/pin/blogs or ww.cipfanetworks.net/pin/blogs/brendan/default.asp?postID=164

Brendan McCarron had picked up on the fact that the Cabinet Office’s Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Standard launched on 10 March 2008 was a re-working (nice, politically correct phrase) of the Treasury Board of Canada’s ‘defunct’ Service Improvment Initiative that had been run by the ICCS, which was based on work done in the City of Victoria that had similarities to the approach of SERVQUAL developed by Parasurama, Zeitelman and Berry but with the descriptions changed to protect them from litigation or payment! I don’t know about the City of Victoria link but there was a guide published by the State – Woodhouse, S.A. et al., 1993. Listening to Customers: An Introduction. Victoria B.C. Service Quality B.C. Secretariat, Government of British Columbia. – which sounds appropriate. The Canadians have also been pretty good at giving credit to Parauraman et al as can be found from the references to the Client Satisfaction Surveying: Common Measurements Tool:


As it happens the SERVQUAL work is some I have read so that I know that one of the original papers was actually –

SERVQUAL: A multiple-item scale for measuring consumer perceptions of service quality.
Parasuraman, A.; Zeithaml, Valarie A.; Berry, Leonard L. Journal of Retailing. 1988 Spr Vol 64(1) 12-40

The abstract can be found at http://psycnet.apa.org/?fa=main.doiLanding&uid=1989-10632-001

I wonder if Brendan was trying to catch out plagiarists?

Dan Champion had a go at the CSE web site in accessibility terms shortly after the lauch, so much for customer excellence –

Incidentally the ICCS ‘How to’ guide is available at:


My continuing gripe is taking obsolescent (1988 ) American theory and dressing it up to make it look new and then serving it up twenty years later on, particularly when some of it is no longer correct or appropriate.

I’m not saying my proposal about using customer dissatisfaction to assist in driving process improvments is entirely original and here’s another take upon it:


But it is a novel development of a parsimonious solution to managing the modern multiple service channels in government, something that SERVQUAL wasn’t – its just a little too complicated!