Help to develop Cork’s service charter

Dr Angela Wright, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Organisation and Development, School of Business, CIT, gives an introduction to plans to develop a service charter for the City of Cork
Help to develop Cork’s service charter
Patrick's StreetPic; Larry Cummins

A SENSE of welcome identifies the soul of a city. The quality of service defines it. A collective excellence in service delivery creates an experience for the consumer which is memorable, affirming, and, most importantly from the commercial perspective, it makes the consumer eager to repeat it. While each business operation has its own style, personality, and particular environment, there are certain constants in the provider-consumer interchange which will, when taken all together in a city, paint a picture in the mind of either satisfaction or dislike, contentment or discomfort, efficiency or sloppiness.

What is a city service charter?

The purpose of a charter is to outline and detail the standards a customer or client can expect when engaging with service providers in the City of Cork.

In brief, a city service charter is a collective commitment by all of those engaged in the daily service life of the city to focus on the needs and preferences of their customers, motivated by values such as respect, integrity and excellence. Among an extensive set of aspirations, the following are especially desirable:

universal commitment to cooperation and involvement by all sectors of service providers in instilling and supporting a sense of pride of place and pride in excellence of service delivery which is not only satisfying to the consumer but exceeds expectations;

seek to enhance the customer experience by being attentive to all aspects of city life, particularly streetscape, safety, and courtesy;

constantly monitoring and communicating through consultation and feedback;

ensuring staff are trained to be thoughtful, courteous, skilled and motivated;

reviewing the performance of staff and providing training in enhanced skills where shortcomings are identified;

ensuring that information, resources and services are readily available and accessible, providing clear channels of communication whereby the consumer may have a voice on issues of concern and matters that affect them, and providing explanations on decisions that are made and actions that are undertaken based on the feedback that is received from the consumer.

In a digital age of expanding online interactions, protecting your personal information and addressing compliance with all legislative privacy requirements.

Addressing inconsistencies in the service model and synchronising efforts to grow commercial activity is best addressed through cooperation in the competitive space, an approach known as ‘coopetition’, a phrase first coined in 1913 by the Sealshipt Oyster System in the USA to describe the idea of cooperative competition, or cooperating with competitors, and to convey its understanding of how the oyster traders should deal with one another; its principles are that in cooperating with one another you are creating more business for each of you, you are in ‘coopetition’ not competition, working together to common advantage. The Cork city business community is now leading the way in Ireland by joining together to establish a coordinated approach to the quality of service in the city.

The only sure way to achieve consistency of best practice across the service spectrum is to construct a document which details the key elements of desirable practice, establish it by accord, and encourage each place of business and each agent of delivery to be equipped to satisfy its aspirations. This proposed document will be entitled the Cork City Service Charter.

The plan to have a specific service charter for the City of Cork has come from the Cork City forum. In its own descriptor, the forum sets out its goals as follows:

‘The primary objective of the Cork City Forum is to focus on the identification and advancement of new and innovative opportunities to drive footfall and business in the city centre while also working to achieve better outcomes on existing issues. The forum brings together representatives of Cork City Council, Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, An Garda Siochána, North Main Street Traders Association, McCurtain Street Traders Association and representatives from the Vintners Federation as a working group to progress initiatives for the long-term benefit of the City.’

Building on successful collaborations with several city quarters over recent years, a team of Masters students from the Dept. of Organisation and Professional Development, School of Business, Cork Institute Of Technology, under my direction, has been asked to work on this specific project of developing a service charter for the City of Cork.

To this end we will help decipher the mindset of the business community, conduct surveys among regular shoppers, tourists, occasional visitors and residents, and consult broadly with many interested contributors.

At the end of the process we hope to present a valuable service charter which will guide the consumer experience in the city of Cork into the future and set a precedent for similar charters throughout Ireland. To operationalise this charter, the intention is to have all service providers sign up to it, and to offer short training courses to facilitate its implementation.

By engaging with those who experience the City routinely, we are aspiring to form a valuable charter, guided by values such as pride of place, integrity, accountability, respect and excellence.

We encourage all those who wish to have their voice heard during this developmental phase to complete a general survey available on the Cork City Website at this online source click on November News Letter, or contact

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