Service User as the stakeholder, Government and Business
The literature mainly focuses on service users. The service users are a very fundamental stakeholder of government and businesses. The service users are the individual citizens who benefit from the services that are usually provided by the government and other businesses. They form a crucial part and play a significant and critical role without which the business and government services are of little or no consequence at all. For the government, the service users make use of the public services that it provides. These services include but are not limited to the following: roads, provision of electricity and water, health services, education through the provision of school and other social amenities. The concepts of the consumer, customer, client, user, citizen and the general public have been used to refer to the service users.
The literature examines the users of public services, how these users are positioned or perceived. Besides, it looks at how service users are involved in the delivery of services. As such it looks at them as a significant stakeholder in the government and the business sector. The paper reviews the literature and presents its strength with regards to the manner in which it covers the literature. Other areas that require significant analysis and consideration are also pointed towards the end of the discussion. It has been noted that the literature misses a certain significant point. The conclusion is then presented clearly on the basis of the literature analysis. It objectively brings out the researchers views with regards to the service users as stakeholders in the government and business sector agencies.
Service users, who they are
Service users as has been described can be clients, consumers, customers, citizens and the general public who constantly interact with the government and business and make effective use of the services that these two provide. In essence, it is the service users that justify the existence of a business or a government. It is very prudent to state the fact that businesses exist because of the service users and service users do not exist because of the business. In the same vein, the government exists to provide services to its citizens who are essentially the service users. It is on the basis of this recognition that businesses strive to delight their customers, treat them passionately and acknowledge them as a very critical success factor.
As such, the service users are the people who use services such as education, health, social care and security. These are the services that quite often are provided by the government and the business sectors. The unemployed members of the society, low-income earners all form part of the service users. The sick, whether acute, chronic, potential or mental are all users of the health facilities provided by the government.
Moreover, both the young and old populations, parents and children, youths and babies make use of the educational services either provided by the government or other potential businesses that have invested in the provision of educational services. These are therefore very important stakeholders of the government in the sense that the government provides the education and they utilize that service.
The elderly, people with sensory disabilities, adopters, children in need all benefit from the social services provided by the government. As such, they also make up a very significant component of the stakeholders. Victims of the security and even the perpetrators are also stakeholders of the government services. For instance, when an individual is attacked by robbers, the government hospital will take care of the victim. Similarly, if the perpetrator is brought to book, he uses the prison, a service provided by the government to punish, correct and rehabilitate lawbreakers thereby making them useful members of the society.
In the light of these explanations, it is increasingly becoming clear that the government and businesses and the service users are inseparable. They exist to provide services to the customers who are the general public. In other words, the service users form a significant component as a stakeholder of both the government and the businesses across the globe.
Forms of exchange
The government and businesses have different forms of exchange that they use to ensure that the services they provide are exchanged for some value at some fee with the consumer, the general public, who is the main stakeholder. For the businesses, this is the marketing exchange and often times it is in the form of money. For the business, the service user is often referred to as customer while in the government sector he is known as the citizen or the client. For both the cases, the service user i.e. customer for the business and client in case of government, have to express a preference for a given service.
The provider in this case the government or the business provides the service. For business, the case is always reciprocated in the sense that both the parties involved are bound to benefit, that is, both parties receive a private value. Furthermore, the service is largely based on the choice of the customer. Again, the provider who is the business seeks to maximize sales.
In the case of government, the client (citizen), upon the expression of preference is provided with the service by the government. In most cases, the citizens do not pay as is the case of the businesses. As such, the exchange here is one way. It is not reciprocal. In certain cases, the citizen may still be required to pay some little fee so that services such as education, health facilities and other social services can be provided by the government. However, the amount charged by the government is usually lower than that from the businesses from the private industry. It is also prudent to note at this point that the citizens are limited to the choice of services. For example, the government decides what type of education, health services, and types of road networks and security to provide to its citizens.
The service users, therefore, use the goods and services from the government and businesses exchanged at a fee or not. The citizens usually obtain a public value for the services they obtain from the government while the clients and customers in the business sector obtain a private value for the goods and services rendered to them.
The concept of Citizenship in relation to Service Usage
Tony Blair described the modern citizenship as follows: A modern notion of citizenship gives rights but demands obligations, shows respects but wants it back, grants opportunity but insists on responsibility. So the purpose of economic and social policy should be to extend opportunity, to remove the underlying causes of social alienation. But it should also take tough measures to ensure that the chances are taken up.
The citizen or customer seems not to have adequate sovereignty as a stakeholder of the governmental services. The sovereignty should be seen in allowing the customers and the citizens to have a choice, a voice and control over the services they would like to be provided with. Unfortunately, this has never been the case especially with regards to the provision and utilization of the government services. They are supposed to be allowed to personalize the services just as witnessed in the business and private sector.
Where the citizens as stakeholders are given the priority and sovereignty, the following are key features of them as key stakeholders of the government services: they have control, they have an effective say on what services ought to be provided for them and they have delegated powers to make decisions and choices regarding exactly what they want and how they want it done without any fear of intimidation. These citizens, as fundamental stakeholders and important governmental service users, are also allowed to form effective partnerships that can effectively aid in agitating for what they consider as their rights. This is absolutely difficult to come by in a society where the government suppresses its citizens who by all standards and definitions should be its main concern.
There are also those citizens who can be described to be under the category of tokenism. These citizens are characterised by elements of placation, consultation and information. They, however, do not have an effective say on what services they want although they can be consulted and given the information. The decision rests with the government. As such, this category of stakeholder of the government services is not as effective as the ones that have the citizen power. Their say is limited to the government’s decision. Their ideas and contribution to the service provider may be listened to but may not be implemented as the government still has the say in what services to provide for them and how such services ought to be provided.
The other category of citizens who are equal beneficiaries of the services provided by the government are the ones referred to as non-participants. These citizens are characterised by a substantial amount of therapy and manipulation. They are not allowed to have any say in any matters related to what services they should be provided with. It is true they are the beneficiaries, the fact that they are a very fundamental stakeholder of the government services is quite clear. However, the government has a total say over what to provide to them, how to provide it and when it deems appropriate that the services ought to be provided to the citizens. This category of service users has no say, way or contribution at all to the services that affect them.
How to achieve a more personalized customer/citizenship to enhance service provision
Personalization of the services that ought to be provided to the service users is ideal to them since it ensures that the customers obtain that which meets their needs effectively, conveniently and promptly. Therefore, more personalized services ought to be provided. The customers should be allowed to have control over what services they need and how they would like the services provided to them. It should be appreciated that they are a vital stakeholder of the government and the business sectors and thereby given the opportunity to exercise their rights to choose the services that best suit their needs.
A friendlier customer interface with the services should be created. This should necessarily include the provision of services on a 24-hour basis so that the customers are able to obtain the services at any time they feel the need to use the services. The services such as the health facilities and security should particularly be provided on a full-time basis so that the clients are not inconvenienced when they direly need these services.
Besides, the online and telephone interactions in the government and the business sector ought to be enhanced again to facilitate the interaction between the customers and these services. The clients should particularly have a saw and away in terms of the choice of appointments and locations. There should also be organized outreach with the aim of enhancing the customer interactions with the services offered either by the government or the business industries.
The customers should have more say in navigating a way through services once accessed. This ought to include the provision of more options or alternatives to customers so that they can effectively contribute to the basis of the available options. The customers should be informed so that they know the existing services and what these services imply to they’re well being whether economically, socio-culturally, politically or even educationally. Various pathways to the services should also be ensured so that customers are able to obtain personalised services from the government and the business sectors.
Customers also ought to have a direct say over how money is spent especially in the government sector. It should not be forgotten that much of the government expenditure streams from the tax that is obtained from the citizens themselves. It is therefore very appropriate and in order that these citizens have a say over how this money is used. They should particularly be involved in identifying the services that are most fundamental and how these services should be given to them.
Sometimes, the government may not be in a position to fully comprehend the citizens’ situation on the ground. Giving them the power to determine how the money is spent in relation to the service provider will see to it that the most appropriate and very relevant services are provided to them. This will also eliminate the idea of the government having an entire say over what to provide to the citizens. The benefits are meagre when the government imposes the services on the citizens. But it is so vehement when the citizens themselves decide what they want and how their money is spent on getting what they want.
There is also the idea of co-designers and co-producers. This involves the active involvement of the users of the services provided by the government and the business sector. They should particularly play a central role in the design and the delivery of the services. These services comprise of the people’s expertise, views and perspectives of the service users that compliments the skills and expertise of the professionals. User-driven services are not just about their consultation and representation. It is about their active involvement in designing and even delivery of the services. The services are meant for them and as such this participation should be welcome.
The co-production approaches involve the creation of a new way of linking the individuals and the collective good. People who are known to actively participate in creating solutions to meet their needs usually make their money work very hard and effectively deliver public policy goals. The approaches work efficiently since they lead to the mobilization of democratic intelligence. Thousands of people have better ideas and should not be solely reliant on the ideas of some selected few policymakers. Their involvement is very appropriate and is likely to result in better products and services for the service users.
Self organizations should also be encouraged. This is exhibited by a scenario where the users care for themselves in more informed ways.
The disabled as a stakeholder in government
The socially disabled people form a significant part of the stakeholders of the services provided by the government and some businesses. However, society disables these physically impaired individuals. Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments by the way we are unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society. The professional gift model looks at the contribution of the community, the government and professional provision of services to the people in need. The community is seen to be contributing through taxation. The government, on the other hand, funds the process of caring for these members of society. The role of the professional in this case becomes the significant determination of the support and the type of services that ought to be given to these members of the society. These professionals do this after a comprehensive assessment of the need of these individuals.
There should be co-design of assistive technology to these disabled and equally important members of the society. Personal involvement plans in the service provision for this special population should also be enhanced. Co-production should also be ensured for this population to ensure that effective and relevant services are produced and rendered to them. The core supervision should include user involvement in issues relating to recruitment, training and performance assessment.
It would be very prudent to allow the disabled members of society to pursue the services that are best related to them. They too deserve a right to live and obtain the services just like the other members of the society. The government should particularly take a leading role in ensuring that these members of the society are not left behind. The major problem that these people face is exclusion and isolation from the other members of the larger society.
Reports of stigmatisation of many of these members especially those that have severe mental illnesses, HIV/AIDS victims among others have been witnessed. These people are very special in society. They are equally an important stakeholder of the government and the business industry. As such they are supposed to be allowed to pursue their interest by providing them with the best and relevant services and a favourable atmosphere that favours the pursuance of these interests.
The quality of data in the literature
This literature in terms of data presented is of good quality and has comprehensively addressed the issue of service users as stakeholders in the government and the business sectors. It effectively brings out the kinds of users of the services breaking them down into appropriate categories in the society. Besides, it reviews critically the types of services that these users are likely to obtain from the business industry and the government sector. Services such as education, healthcare provision, social services and security are well examined in the literature. These are actually the services that the general public, the consumers, clients, customers and citizens are likely to require from the government. These are well acknowledged and captured in the literature.
The literature has also effectively noted the perception of society towards these users of the services. It has, without bias, stated that society excludes the disabled members of the society and isolates them. This is the case with a great many societies across the globe. It moves forward to recognize the disabled as a significant component of the stakeholder in the government and business sector. This ought to be well appreciated. The customer sovereignty is also well looked at. Issues affecting this sovereignty such as lack of power among the citizens, inadequate control, information and say among other issues are considered an impediment to attaining effective customer sovereignty.
I can conclusively affirm that the literature provided is almost adequate in addressing the stakeholder issue of the service users in relation to business and government sectors. However, there are some few elements that require further clarification. Other issues have also not been comprehensively covered, missed or overlooked.
Issues for further consideration
The literature looks at the society in some generalized kind of perspective especially with regards to the disabled. It especially looks at these people as excluded in society. This may be a dangerous assumption sort of adequate information. This is because there are societies that have recognized the fundamental role played by disabled members of society. Governments have taken a leading role in providing good social services to these important members of society. The notion that these people are isolated is based on generalities and looks misguided. It is a notion that ought to be rethought.
The literature does not provide adequate information on how the services are perceived or positioned. The focus on the aspect of perception is mainly on the special population comprising of the disabled members of the community. It is also notable that the literature pushes for the involvement of the stakeholders in the delivery of services but it fails to address how this can be done in a manner that can be convincing, appropriate and adaptable.
As a result, issues such as the active involvement of the citizens including the disabled in the decisions involving service delivery for them ought to have been fundamentally captured. The literature was supposed to clarify the distinctions between the citizen, client, consumer, customer and the public. These concepts are merely mentioned to refer to service users.
The main focus of the literature is the service users, especially on the government sector. Well, the business sector is touched but is not given much weight. Because of the significant role of the business industry and the fact that the service users are fundamental stakeholders of the businesses, the industry should have been given equal consideration just as the government. After all, the discussion is about the service users as stakeholders of the business and government. The focus should not have been inclined to one side.
The moral services such as counselling for the sick and the vulnerable members of the society are conspicuously missing. There are numerous private sectors that offer such services and their role in creating and strengthening relationships between businesses and the government with their stakeholders should not be underestimated.
Generally, the literature provided would suffice for basic knowledge and understanding of the service users as stakeholders in the government and the business industry. However, the explanations provided are not adequate enough to give a detailed view of the issue. Most of the concepts are presented in short point forms. This requires a more expounding so that the details are understandable and conceivable.
In conclusion, service users can be said to play a very significant role in the determination of the kind of services that the government and the businesses provide. Without the clientele, the business is good as dead. Equally, there can be no government without citizens. These two institutions exist to provide services to the users who are majorly drawn from the general public. It goes without saying then that these citizens, clients, consumers, customers and the public are the most fundamental stakeholders of any government or business.
The significant role they play in the thriving of many business enterprises and the tax contribution towards the running of the governmental operations cannot be overlooked. As a result, they ought to be given the opportunity to determine the services they wish to be provided with, how these services should be provided and when. They should not only be allowed to speak but also make decisions on these services. They should not be demoralized in any way but should be motivated so that the best and relevant services are provided for them.
Governments should be democratic in their approach to providing services to these users. The users ought to be informed of the services that should be provided for them. Three elements should be effective characteristic of these users: power, control and participation. Only then can the most impeccable and relevant services be provided to these important stakeholders in the government and business industry. In fact, it should go beyond just the mere involvement in the consultative and participating in decision making, it should be about the participation in the design, production and even the delivery of the services for both the government and the business sector agencies. The disabled members of society should not be left behind. They should also be fundamentally involved in the design phases of the services that mean a lot of significance to their welfare and development.
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