Using 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 used customer insight.

Inform strategy and policy

London Borough of Harrow Council's scrutiny function conducted a review into high fear of crime, using a combination of local crime data, customer surveys and consultation exercises. The review's recommendations helped the council, police and others in the local strategic partnership (LSP) work together to tackle the issue. The resulting partnership working has, according to the 2006 direction of travel (DoT) assessment, "helped to deliver regeneration benefits in town centres and to reduce fear of crime”.

Allocate resources

London Borough of Camden Council is tailoring the location and services offered by its customer access points to target specific customer groups and allocate resources more effectively. Camden has decided to rationalise more than 40 face-to-face points to just three or four, based on a better understanding of its priority customer groups.

Manage performance

Westminster City Council conducts targeted surveys of customers shortly after they have accessed council services to identify tangible ways each service could be improved and measure customer satisfaction. Since starting in 2006, 130 improvements have been implemented.

Market services more effectively

Sunderland City Council used customer segmentation to identify which groups were not paying for services by direct debit and the preferred communication channels. The council subsequently advertised the direct debit service in specific locations and provided payment options to meet these groups' requirements, including a weekly payment option. Partly as a result of these initiatives, payment by direct debit has risen from 62 to 67.2 per cent.

Change behaviours

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council and Primary Care Trust conducted a social marketing campaign to support healthier lifestyles among 50-65-year-old men. Initial market research, including street interviews, focus groups and pilot health checks, ensured that the target group strongly related to the campaign's humorous tone, key messages and communication channels. Of the target group, 57 per cent were aware of the campaign, 3,000 had health checks and 85 per cent of those followed-up made positive lifestyle changes as a result.

Improve service design

Derbyshire County Council is using customer journey mapping to redesign several services including staff recruitment and social care. These reviews have resulted in specific recommendations, such as providing hints and tips as well as an approximate interview date for online applications.

Page published April 2009.

30 October 2009

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