Insight tools, data and techniques: 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 approached customer insight, comprehensive area assessment (CAA) and partnerships.

Customer segmentation

The London Borough of Barnet has used customer segmentation to identify the demographic characteristics of customers that did not respond to an electoral canvass. It then used tailored letters and posters in specific parts of the borough to encourage registration among these groups. The percentage of adults registered has risen from 87 per cent in 2007 to 89.3 per cent in 2008.

Kent County Council combined consultation data with segmentation analysis to identify:

  • which customer groups have high demand for children's day care
  • where they are located within the county.

This information was then used to inform resource allocation for day care providers to focus funding on areas of high demand.

Customer journey mapping

The London Borough of Lewisham is at the start of a challenging three year customer services transformation programme. The aim is to design better access to better services. They have developed their own service transformation methodology to understand internal service delivery processes and the impact it has on customer experience. This involves overlaying customer journey maps on internal process maps to understand the causes of poor customer experience and the opportunities for improvement. A stakeholder challenge panel has been developed to assist with customer experience mapping.

Derbyshire County Council's North East Business Services Team used customer journey mapping to gauge where improvements to services were required from the customer point of view. Satisfaction was measured against stages in the process of a social services assessment. Where satisfaction is high, good practice can be gleaned. Where satisfaction is low, the service can be redesigned to meet the user's needs and improve outcomes.

Market research tools: consultation

Herefordshire Council has developed a central consultation system which brings all consultation plans and results into a single database. The resource has been made available to the local strategic partnership, including the primary care trust and police. The system has helped to reduce consultation fatigue and encourage sharing of consultation information.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council's Neighbourhoods and Adult Services Directorate uses a combination of market research techniques to better understand its customers:

  • surveys across forty customer-facing teams to measure specific customer satisfaction outcomes, including ease of contact and improved quality of life
  • a customer inspection service, where citizens mystery shop various services and assess the quality of contact points, such as reception areas
  • using video diaries to record customers' experiences throughout service journeys, including moving into social housing and applying for adaptations.

These techniques have helped to bring about a number of positive outcomes, including:

  • an increase in customer satisfaction from 72 per cent to 96 per cent
  • new email and online comment forms customers can use 24/7
  • the clearer signage of services and staff at customer access points to make it quicker and easier to access specific services
  • a reduction in the average waiting time for major housing adaptations from 183 to 52 days.

Market research tools: social media

Redbridge Council's interactive website, 'Redbridge i', allows citizens to customise the website to suit their own requirements. It has interactive elements enabling them to engage with the council and their community. Redbridge has benefited from more online transactions and it has provided a rich source of information about service users and their preferences.

The London Borough of Barnet is combining traditional consultation techniques, customer segmentation models and newer social media tools to develop a rounded picture of the aspirations and needs of its population. Public meetings held by the council leader are followed up with a video posted on YouTube and transcript on a dedicated website:

Leader listens - London Borough of Barnet social media website

The online record of these meetings allows those not able to attend to participate and be involved in the debate after the event. Blogs about local issues and posts in local discussion forums are monitored and engaged with. The council's presence on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has helped them to reach out and understand the concerns of residents young and old in a way which complements existing empowerment strategies.

Internal sources and repositories of data: local information systems (LISs)

The West London Alliance (WLA) is conducting a joint website analysis project to map customers' experiences as they use the web to access a number of council services. As a result, a number of the WLA's websites have been improved for services such as:

  • paying council tax
  • reporting anti-social behaviour
  • finding information on home care.

The Enfield Observatory was created over four years ago by the London Borough of Enfield and was one of the first LISs. It is used across the strategic partnership, with the majority of partners contributing to funding. The LIS has been used as an evidence base for many strategic decisions including the allocation of resources to meet the child-focused local area agreement ‘Every child really does matter'.

Internal sources and repositories of data: customer relationship management (CRM) systems

Chorley Borough Council has integrated its CRM and geographical information (GIS) systems to build up neighbourhood profiles and better understand the needs of its seven neighbourhoods. A customer's request or complaint can be mapped and linked to a customer segment. This helps to build up a full understanding of service needs. The information will underpin specific neighbourhood action plans that identify the service package needed by each group and the most effective delivery channels.

1 April 2009

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