NI14 – the new moneypit for IT suppliers?

July 10, 2008

A very recent promotion by a local government supplier included the following statement:

“In line with the objectives detailed in the NI14 indicator councils will be expected to halve ‘avoidable contact’ with citizens by 2011 and simplify lengthy, complicated processes, whilst reducing costs. It has been identified that face to face interactions with customers cost £9 per enquiry, telephone interactions cost £5 and web interactions just 12p. An average Local Authority that has 180,000 face to face interactions in a year could make a saving of approximately £799,200 if, in line with the objectives set by NI14 this number was halved to 90,000 (based on real figures).”

The supplier concerned hadn’t read the IDeA guidance since it hadn’t been published by that stage and was relying, I presume, on the earlier Cabinet Office information. However my main contention would be that Varney was asking for a 50% reduction in ‘avoidable contact’ by 2011, not for it to more than disappear!Even the IDeA guidance states that the private sector has 40 to 60 % ‘avoidable contact’ currently and only a few pilot authorities have actually started measuring it and attempting to reduce it. According to NWEGG the channel costs are £7.81, £4.00 and 17p respectively, which are slightly cheaper than those quoted, although there are a range of values being currently quoted however other research indicates that these vary greatly by service and an average figure may be meaningless as well as probably varying greatly by authority!

Anyway, I am completely befuddled by the figures in the example! Are we to presume that all the services were face-to-face? Or can we move some to telephone, losing some ‘avoidable contact’ in the process, but since this was a web firm I presume they are all being dealt with by e-forms, saving even more money.

It is thinking (or lack of) like this that does a dis-service to public service and the service to the public…

Satisfaction – Canadian style!

January 13, 2008

 Discovering two British Cabinet Office documents by chance when all the furore about National Indicator 14 (avoidable contact) was going on, I started to wonder why we weren’t paying further homage to activities in recent years in Canada. The structure over there is slightly different with federal and provincial governments but the Canadians have been at the forefront of e-government, from a customer perspective, for years.

So whilst we have two new documents:

How to measure customer satisfaction: A toolkit for improving the customer experience in public services

Promoting Customer Satisfaction: Guidance on improving the customer experience in Public Services

The Canadians produced:

Client Satisfaction Surveying: Common Measurements Tool

Client Satisfaction Surveying: A Managers Guide

In the late 1990’s and the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service (ICCS), which has taken over the Citizen-Centred Service Network from the Canadian Centre for Management Development  has a library of publications for download or purchase.  All the documents mentioned above are probably best sourced by ‘googling’ for them but in the case of the Canadian ones it is perhaps due to their age, the ICCS having a number of other documents available.

I must admit that Cabinet Office guidance does refer critically  to the Canadian CMT and states that Suffolk Customer Service Direct is using it, however in the model I am suggesting, granularity is kept to a minimum and equates to the CMT Outcome, since I am looking for a straightforward view across all channels. 

C’est la vie?