When customers interact with our office, one of the basic keys to providing excellent service is the quality of the work we perform. What is meant by quality? Quality as used in this context is defined as having a high degree of merit, and traditionally has been measured by the factors of accuracy, timeliness and reliability. Our view of quality relies on systematic, continuous improvement of our processes and outputs to ensure that we meet customer requirements the first time and every time.
The nature of our work mandates a very high level of accuracy, as any errors we make can have a profound adverse impact. For example, if we mistakenly entered the name of a business as a debtor in our records and this was publicized by the news media, that business's reputation and economic status could be severely damaged. Another example with severe ramifications would be an error in processing a new case that resulted in a debtor's not having the protection of the automatic stay to avert the foreclosure sale of the debtor's home. Remember, everything we do impacts people’s lives, often to a very great extent. Thus it is critical that we do our work right and check to make sure it is so before moving on to the next task. It is better to get it right the first time for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are the waste and cost associated with unnecessary rework . This is not a new concept, as Seneca in ancient Rome wrote in his Epistles, “it is quality rather than quantity that matters.”
The effectiveness of our work also rests on how quickly it is performed. Even if we have a perfect accuracy level, if it takes too long to do a task we have greatly diminished, and perhaps eliminated, the value of the service altogether. Many of our duties have explicit time deadlines we must meet, both mandated from outside and set by ourselves. For instance, we have an internal standard of opening all new cases the same business day of receipt. Since the courts are the fulcrum of the justice system, we have a special responsibility to complete our work quickly, keeping in mind that the phrase“justice delayed is justice denied” has a lot of truth in our office’s work.
In recent years, though, quality has come to mean more. Quality now has additional meaning as measured by the needs and requirements of our customers, who are demanding more than ever before. Put yourself in the place of any of our customers, either internal or external. You will measure the quality of your experience with our office by whatever your expectations were prior to the interaction, and whether the experience was better or worse than those expectations. Obviously the factors of accuracy and timeliness play a large part in this measurement, but other factors, such as the manner of personal treatment (cordial, respectful, attentive, etc.) and the accessibility of our services and information, play a key role.
So we must pay constant attention to accuracy, timeliness, and our customers’ needs to achieve a high degree of merit. We need to stay focused on the desired outcome in all situations, and make sure we provide appropriate quality as both we (with our internal standards of performance) and our customers define it. Quality, then, is fundamental to our providing excellent customer service and fulfilling the public’s trust in us as public servants.