Consumer or Service-user Outcomes do not happen by themselves. They require focus, practice, evidence, resources, structured planning and continuous improvement on the part of the service-provider. Most importantly, agree on these key definitions for use throughout your commercial or nonprofit organisation:
- an output is what your business or organisation does, offers, provides or produces
- an outcome is the impact or benefit of your output in the life or lifestyle of the person/s who uses or accesses your output. ‘Consumer’ is used in these Principles to include service-user, customer, consumer, client or member
- Focus the organisation’s resources on the achievement of measurable consumer outcomes in addressing or fulfilling the purpose for which the organisation exists, ie providing outputs designed to improve or enhance the life or lifestyle of consumers
- Involve consumers and their local community or community of interest in identifying and prioritising needs and outcomes, and planning appropriate, acceptable and affordable outputs
- Think, plan and act as a community-based organisation offering or providing quality services to consumers within their actual environment
- Express and articulate the organisation’s philosophy, values and purpose in terms of cost-effective outputs, and measurable consumer outcomes
- Identify and project the organisation’s uniqueness, confidence and competence in ensuring superior value to consumers and their support networks – ‘superior value’ is the best possible service experience for each consumer
- Be adept at identifying, projecting and demonstrating the organisation’s uniqueness in contributing to the well-being of its community and community members – uniqueness is what your organisation does differently or better than any other similar service-provider
- Learn or import skills necessary to gain the confidence of current and potential consumers
- Establish and maintain effective networks and linkages that contribute to an integrated service delivery model
- Ensure that the organisation is effectively governed, responsibly managed, financial viable, and operationally sound
Two Examples – to illustrate key points in planning a measurable consumer outcome
- there may be a number of steps for a consumer to move from their current situation to their desired situation, with each step being a measurable consumer outcome
- a measurable consumer outcome can be to enable the consumer to achieve one step in moving toward their desired situation rather than achieving it in one activity
- measurement should be quantitative (ie amount of information gathered, number of activities trialled or attended) and qualitative (ie changes in attitude, behaviour, conversation, and willingness to explore possibilities and expand social horizons)
- with the emphasis on the outcome rather than the measurement, the outcome itself determines the measurement rather than the requirement for measurement determining the outcome: or, worse still, the measurement requirement becoming the desired outcome
Example 1: A consumer has identified her desired situation as ‘being debt free’. It may not be achievable for a consumer with a debt of $1,000 and a weekly income of $400 to clear the debt within 2 months. However, it may be an achievable and measurable outcome within 2 months for her to have altered her lifestyle or spending in such a way as to ensure and maintain a consistent weekly debt re-payment of $50. If such an outcome within this specified period of 2 months is achieved, then a further achievable outcome can be negotiated to maintain this situation through the next 2 months. This second period will require very different strategies and activities than the first 2 months.
Measurement is both quantitative (ie reduction of the debt) and qualitative (ie behaviour of the consumer to display attitude and commitment to debt reduction initially, and later to debt avoidance)
Example 2: A consumer lacking in confidence and self-esteem has identified the desired situation as ‘being reluctant to join in the company of others and unable to present myself positively’. His current situation is a reluctance to initiate or participate in social activities due mainly to a belief that he is inadequate as a person. He is being encouraged to introduce an easy form of physical exercise and social inter-action into his weekly routine with the longer-term aim of increasing his confidence and self-esteem. The negotiated and measurable outcome in the first month may be for him to collect information about local walking groups, healthy living activities and informal discussion groups.
When he has this information, the measurable outcome for the following 2-month period may be to choose one or two activities and trial 2 or 3 for two weeks each. The measurable outcome for the next 2-month activity may be to either continue the trial, choose one for serious involvement, or to look elsewhere for more information.
Measurement is both quantitative (ie amount of information gathered, number of activities trialled or attended) and qualitative (ie changes in attitude, behaviour, conversation and willingness to explore possibilities, willingness to expand social horizons).
With the emphasis on the outcome rather than the measurement, the outcome itself determines the measurement rather than the measurement requirement determining the outcome, or worse still, the measurement requirement becoming the desired outcome!