Developing customer insight: practice examples

Customer insight has many applications in local public service delivery. Here are a few practice examples showing how some councils and their partners have developed customer insight.

Developing and using customer insight as a strategic asset

Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands (IEWM) has published a report demonstrating how seven councils in its region have increased their understanding of their citizens' needs through the development of customer insight.

The report, ‘Developing and Using Customer Insight as a Strategic Asset', shows how councils in Birmingham, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Stratford, Warwick, Walsall and Worcester have used customer insight to identify new ways of strengthening their performance improvement activity.

The project aimed to improve the management of performance and generate more informed decision making by councillors and senior officers. The findings were shared with other councils at two recent IDeA workshops.

Developing and using customer insight as a strategic asset - on the IEWM website

People and skills

Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and its partners have established three customer insight groups with distinct remits. They work together to break down information silos, share best practice and drive through change. They include:

  • a corporate consultation group, with representatives from all service areas, which ensures that valuable customer intelligence is coordinated and shared across the council and the partnership
  • the Improving Customer Experience (ICE) management team, including heads of service and senior managers, has played a key role in the development of a customer service strategy and customer case values
  • a strategic partnership engagement forum, including representatives from local service partners, including the primary care trust (PCT), housing associations, strategic partnerships, the local fire and police service, which works to help better coordinate consultation, share results, best practice and join up on key partnership projects.


West Sussex County Council is undertaking a three-year fundamental service review programme that must include consultation as part of the first stage. Services are being redesigned to meet customers' needs, wants and expectations in terms of quality, value and choice. The programme is being driven in part by a dedicated customer insight team. The team is led by a member of the senior management team and has four staff with a combination of data analysis, customer focused appraisals of services and community engagement skills.

Data and systems

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has developed a system that alerts all relevant services to changes made to customer records. This has led to more consistent, up-to-date customer data throughout the council. The electoral services team has used the system to increase voter registration by targeting people flagged as having moved to new addresses.

Understanding your customer better

After receiving a low level of satisfaction in the latest best value performance indicator (BVPI) survey, Croydon Council wanted to understand how it could improve residents' satisfaction. The council recognised that by better understanding the root causes of low satisfaction for different customer segments, they could begin to tackle these causes. They could then deliver services more focused to the customers and thus drive up satisfaction. The project team is using a combination of internal data, survey information and external data sets alongside customer segmentation, focus groups and detailed analysis of customer information.


Nottinghamshire County Council undertook a baseline exercise to create a snapshot of how customer-focused the organisation was. From this, a range of improvement activities were identified, including:

  • enhanced consultation activity
  • analysis of complaints and dissatisfaction to inform national indicator (NI) 14 work
  • piloting segmentation analysis within the library service to identify groups that were under-using the service.

26 July 2010

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