The New Standard: Frequently Asked Questions Q: What is the new standard? A: In 2005 Cabinet Office Ministers commissioned an independent review of the Charter Mark scheme and invited Bernard Herdan, then Chief Executive of the Passport Service, to lead this work. Mr Herdan‟s report, „The Customer Voice in Transforming Services‟ was published in June 2006 following a detailed review of the current scheme. It recommended that a new customer service standard based on the key drivers of satisfaction should be developed to replace Charter Mark. The Government‟s response to these findings was published in December 2006, and accepted the key recommendations. Since that time work has been underway to develop the new standard and supporting arrangements. Details of Mr Herdan‟s report and the Government response can be found on the Charter Mark website: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/chartermark/news/index.asp Q: What is the timetable for launching the new standard? A: We anticipate that the new standard will be launched at the end of 2007. In the meantime we are aware that there are many organisations that are planning to work towards the new standard and want to get started as soon as possible. For this reason we plan to publish the final version of the new standard on the Charter Mark website in the early summer. Q: What will the new standard contain? A: A „near final‟ version of the new standard has been published on the Charter Mark website. This has been developed over several months following extensive testing with focus groups, key stakeholders, current and potential holders. The next stage in this consultation process is to invite users of the Charter Mark website to consider the draft standard and let us know your views. This is an opportunity to comment on the language, tone and content of new criteria and to tell us what you think. We are happy to receive your feedback on the content of the standard. Please e-mail your comments to email@example.com Once we have received your feedback we will be „fine tuning‟ the criteria before publishing the standard later in 2007. Q: Will the Charter Mark scheme be closed? A: The new standard draws on the existing strengths of Charter Mark but goes further by helping organisations focus on the development of insight about their customers, the measurement of levels of satisfaction and the design of services around customer needs. The existing Charter Mark standard will therefore be phased out over time with the scheme closing to new applicants at a future date. We will ensure that sensible transition arrangements are put in place for holders of Charter Mark to enable those organisations to meet the new standard. Full details of the timetable will be announced in due course. Q: What does this mean for Charter Mark holding organisations? A: Detailed transitional arrangements have not yet been finalised but these will be clarified over the course of the next few weeks. We are confident that sensible provisions can be put in place that will meet the needs of Charter Mark organisations without creating unnecessary financial or administrative burdens. In the meantime Charter Mark holders should be assured that their certificate remains valid, subject to ongoing compliance with the current standard. In due course holders will need to start planning to meet the new standard as the Charter Mark will be phased out over time. Organisations will need to discuss their circumstances on a one to one basis with their certification body. As full details are not yet available we would advise organisations to contact their certification body from July onwards for further details. Q: Can we just convert to the new standard? A: The new standard includes requirements that are not part of the Charter Mark standard and it is not therefore possible to automatically migrate from one to the other. Organisations must be assessed as having met these new requirements before they can become certified holders of the new standard. Further details on the transition process will be available from July. Thereafter we anticipate that a conversation with your certification body will establish your organisation‟s particular circumstances and offer you further guidance on transition. Q: Why is there a need for a new standard when Charter Mark was re- launched only 3 years ago? A: The independent report on Charter Mark by Bernard Herdan indicated that the scheme was “something of an unsung success story”. It is the Government‟s intention to build on this success to make an even more significant impact on improving delivery across public services. The new standard provides an important framework to support a customer focus culture in organisations and will be fully aligned with the transformational government agenda. The Prime Minister has said that „the experience of the customer is at the heart of all service provision‟. The Government has made clear the need for constant development and improvement in the tools and techniques used to deliver excellent public service. Q. Will the new standard be owned by Cabinet Office? A: Yes. The new standard will be developed and launched by the Cabinet Office. In the longer term we will ensure that ownership of the standard is placed where it can most effectively deliver the aims of the scheme. Q: Who will assess applicants against the new standard? A: The new standard will continue to be independently assessed by UKAS accredited certification bodies. Four organisations have been selected by the Cabinet Office to offer assessment and certification against the new standard. Details of the certification bodies can be found on the Charter Mark website. Q: How will this affect the ongoing corporate programmes? A: Cabinet Office is encouraged by the large number of corporate programmes which are already underway. In preparation for the implementation of the formal assessment processes for the new standard sensible transition arrangements will be put in place for organisations with corporate programmes. These will be agreed individually between corporate holders and their certification body within the framework for transition agreed with the Cabinet Office. Q: What will happen to the Charter Mark website? A: The new standard will have a new website and self-assessment tool. This will be launched at the same time as the launch of the new standard in the late autumn 2007. The Charter Mark website will be closed in due course as it will be no longer relevant or helpful for organisations. We are looking for best practice examples to be included on the website so please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an example of excellence in customer service which should be featured. Q: What additional support will there be for applicants? A: In addition to the self-assessment tool, the new website will host best practice examples and case studies to give organisations an insight into the successful strategies of other public service organisations. We also intend to signpost research, articles, publications and websites related to the service transformation agenda to illustrate the broader context in which the new standard operates. A companion guide to the standard will also be developed prior to the official launch and will give further information on the terms used within the new standard. Q: Will the name and logo change? A: The standard is a new quality tool although some of the content is derived from Charter Mark. No final decision has been made on the name of the new standard or on branding. However, any new branding and naming would be implemented in such a way as to minimise the resource implications for organisations holding Charter Mark that want to transition to the new scheme. Q: Will the new standard lose its public sector ethos? A: The Government agrees with Bernard Herdan‟s recommendation that the ‟focus of the scheme should clearly be on the public service provision whether this is delivered through public or private sector or not-for-profit organisations‟. The main focus of the new standard will be on customers of public servic es. It will be closely linked to the Government‟s transformational service agenda and encourage public services to configure design and delivery around the needs of their customers. This is reflected in the wording and requirements of the new standard and will be supported by a website focused on public service applicants.