So, what’s the vision?

Socitm were presenting last week on Web 2.0, I’m arguing for a Citizen-oriented Service Architecture to be planned across the board (including a metric model), the Invisible Hand gang argue for access to data and central government and its contractors continue to lose public trust by losing their data!

Having completed the splendid book by Jeffrey Roy about E-Government in Canada, a great deal of which covered the above issues, particularly public trust, I’m now onto a book that Mantex promoted.(I’ve subscribed to Roy’s newsletter since it started and its always worth a read, even if only for the ‘pub quiz’ questions that flow through it! 

The book by Merholz et al, Subject to Change, encourages us to use customer experience to shape the product development process. In my simple way I thought this might project an opinion around service delivery to the citizen, and it does.

My developing model has the citizen in their community of needs at the front. They approach the resolution of those needs or services approach them, potentially, via the full range of service channels depending upon the service or the citizen’s needs. This will include appropriate security, it may also include Web 2.0.

Overlapping the service channels but feeding back to the citizen and the service is the performance layer that will capture information from those served and those serving about satisfaction and numbers.

Feeding into the range of service channels are the serices themselves, presented in a citizen-oriented service architecture that may allow ‘invisible hands’ access or third sector users, subject to secuity and legalities but taking and delivering transactions and information as required by the media of the service delivery channels.

The performance layer will tune the service layer or refine citizen expectations at the front end, according to feedback.

Where does Merholz et al fit in? Right at the beginning they state that a persons experience of a service emerges from certain qualities which are:







This all means that we need to deliver to expectations and abilities (social inclusion), engaging well with citizens to ensure that the experience is of value! If none of these are fulfilled we want to know why, so we can try and sort it out!

On Friday morning on the 26th September my supervisors Ben and Richard will be presenting the initial research into this realm at Ethicomp 2008 at the University of Mantua. My thanks to them, I hope it is found interesting and no hard questions are asked in my absence. I’m hoping to refine the measure(s) and model at the EiP Conference in November and also at the ESD-Toolkit Customer Insight Working Group in Preston in October.

So, I’m not a lone voice crying in the wilderness, I’ve found a few wildernesses to cry out in!


2 Responses to So, what’s the vision?

  1. Here’s a thought from working on providing customer service solutions in both the public and private sector.

    I think that it’s difficult for the public sector to use the work of folk like Merholz succesfully. Essentially this is because the public sector, especially Local Government has a much more difficult job than private sector enterprises because of the multiple relationships that a local authority (say) has with the people it serves.

    Any one “customer” (a dangerous term because it generalises the individual you are seeking to serve and defines them in terms of the relationship you want, not necessarily the one they want) is perhaps a service user, a tax payer, a user of other services, a benefit claimant and so on. For each of these roles the “customer” has a set of Merholz style experience drivers which can be contradictory (“I expect a better service but I want to pay less tax,” is perhaps the classic) which make it difficult to design services that will respond to all these drivers. Equally “Expectation” is driven by both their engagement with the public sector and with the private sector and unfortunately for the public sector public expectations go to the highest levels of each.

    This isn’t a council of despair, only a recognition that public services have an extra dimension that few private sector enterprises have to contend with.

    When it come to me interacting with my bank, it’s relatively straight forward (plus of course I know what it is they do and what they don’t do). Another problem that the public sector has is that the public isn’t always clear about the scope of services – their pre-conceptions about what public sector services do (or should do) is a heavily conditioning factor in setting their expectations, and the setting of these expectations is only parlty under the control of the individual public agency.

  2. Mick says:


    I have to agree that there are problems with taking private sector experience in full and dumping it onto the public sector just as I have argued elsewhere that taking the American model and plastering it over the UK public sector won’t work, as coincidentally probably neither will the Canadian, without some tuning. However the points I think Merholz are making are around human nature, which is largely universal.

    I also agree with the comments about “customer”; within this blog and the 30,000 words of dissertation I have done I argue strongly against its use. The citizen needs to be treated as such and consumerising them depletes many associated qualities, whether the citizen likes it or not!

    You should also find I am trying to deal with “expectations”, but one of the difficulties that only those who have worked with or in both realise is the breadth of services or possible interactions that local government provide, and as you say a bad experience in one area may end up labelling the many other innocent services. The private sector tends to have a much narrower shop window, where a bad experience at C***t might actually encourage a visit to C****s. All government can do is anchor those expectations for the citizen’s benefit, financially and in terms of quality.

    The joy of working in the public sector is the breadth of individual services you can get involved with, its also the factor that makes it harder to re-engineer to citizen comprehension.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: