Public expectations and assertiveness

People now approach public services as consumers and have higher expectations of the quality and choice of services available to them. Individuals are also becoming more confident and assertive in voicing their concerns and defending their rights. This can be seen by a rise in the numbers of complaints.  In addition, the personalisation agenda means that people increasingly expect tailored services and support. 

What are the implications?

  • Organisations will need to provide higher quality services to match users' expectations.
  • Flexibility in service provision will become key; beneficiaries begin to expect goods and services to be more tailored towards their needs.
  • Offering more flexible services of a higher quality has a cost impact.
  • Opportunities exist for organisations to harness consumer assertiveness to help shape future services
  • Organisations will need to be willing to learn and act on feedback.
  • Organisations will need to have a good understanding of what their beneficiaries want, and have suitable ways of capturing this information.
  • Implications exist surrounding the maintenance of reputation.
  • Organisations will need to be transparent in how they deal with feedback.

Moving forward

Flexibility of working means that organisations may have to tailor information and services to match people’s needs. 

  • What does your organisation do that can be tailored?

In order to be able to provide high quality, suitable support, organisations need to be aware of what their beneficiaries want and need.

  • Do you collect this information already? 
  • What measures might you need to put in place to collect or improve the collection of this information?

Feedback is vital in improving service quality levels.

  • Do you need to change services / collect information / deal with feedback?
  • How does your organisation currently deal with feedback? 
  • Are there ways you can use this feedback to improve your services? 
  • Do you need to think about ways for this to be fed back to beneficiaries?
  • Given that being answerable to assertive consumers has implications on outcomes monitoring and evaluation, does your organisation have these systems in place? 
  • How will you develop these in a transparent way?

Want to know more?

Great Expectations: Achieving a sustainable health system

Published by: IPPR - a left of centre think tank

Date: 2007

Format: PDF

What is it? Free link to executive summary of report assessing the cost impact of public expectations on the NHS

How useful is this? Although this looks specifically at the NHS, it offers an interesting assessment of the cost impact of trying to meet high public expectations, and a discussion of the benefits and risks of increasing assertiveness amongst the public.

Other comments: The whole report can be bought online from IPPR.

Last updated at 15:35 Wed 30/Mar/11.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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