Optimization techniques

August 23, 2009

Hot off the McKinsey press comes a piece about optimization techniques using customer satisfaction as a metric.

Authors Sebastien Katch and Tim Morse in the latest McKinsey Quarterly describe how the public sector, unlike the private one,  can’t use metrics around cost-to-serve or profit and describe the approach taken by a US federal agency wanting to improve its call centres and paper-processing better i.e. two services channels.

It sounds like quite a complex mathematical model was created to shuffle staff between the two tasks, while attempting to maintain customer satisfaction at an optimum level.

In my simple view, the key learning is that citizen satisfaction is a useful and straghtforward metric for controlling channel quality and hence juggling priorities between them.

Gerry McGovern picks up this theme in his current newsletter, pointing out that:

“Before we can measure success we need to understand the customer’s task.”


“Measuing success based on volume encourages bad practice.”l

His attack on what he describes as  the “cult of volume” is appropriate to the other channels as it is to the web one.


Consuming ourselves

August 2, 2009

In considering the citizen versus consumer debate I was reading the latest entry in the online journal of the McKinsey consultancy, “The consumer decision journey“.

Initially, reading about how traditional marketing people had considered the touch points of influencing sales and from this developed the metaphor of a “funnel” seemed a mile away from electronic or any other government but of course this is not the case. Politicians are elected for good or evil, after wanting power for some reason of their own. How do they get elected but by convincing enough people that they can do the best job of running that part of government compared with their running mates.

How then might the “consumer decision journey” operate in a political context? In an ideal world, we would all have the government we deserved, and that government would be excellent. It would cost the minimum, do the most against the majority of citizens’ ideals and not get caught with its hands in the till. In the real world we have two or three parties battling against each other as to who tells the more truths, best balances budgets and gets the most bangs for bucks. How they make the citizens aware of this is that initial part of the journey, they have to have “good press” and lots of it, especially around election time.

How does this relate to electronic government? Well, it doesn’t unless the implementation of it had managed to save money or vastly improve services, which it hasn’t! It primarily relates to how multi-channel service delivery can be made to provide adequate and ethical service for the vast majority of those involved whether tax payers or service recipients. If we consider a job well done the politicians might survive, if not, shall we try somone else who offers a different approach and promises.

Of course, life isn’t that simple and between the citizen and the elected sit those whose job it is to actually deliver the service. The civil service, bureaucracy or local authority officers need to be convinced of the value of change by both or either partyto ensure a successful implementation.

So, how many funnels and which goes into which, and where?


If you are interested and, preferably, in UK local government please complete the survey, it doesn’t take long at all. I’ll keep feeding back through these pages, which are also covered by localgov.co.uk and PSF.


Getting Techie

July 22, 2009

Tim  Berners-Lee has made one of his not-too frequent posts upon the topic of e-government. In fact it’s not really e-government its about putting data online. The article is on the W3C web site.

This is probably highly appropriate since the W3C eGovernment Interest Group has reached its latest phase and published a draft charter.

With everyone working on data handling and information management, what I’d like to see is that we can use linked data, as envisaged by Berners-Lee but in a coordinated manner, so that the tools we emply internally can produce the data for external use by ourselves (which we may not need when external hosts can do it) and others.

Anyway, Berners-Lee provides lots of suggestions plus some ‘do’s and don’ts’. Lets do some.

The same metter is picked up in a piece in the McKinsey Quarterly entitled E-government 2.0, which reinforces the method but accepts the cultural hurdles to be leaped or stumbled over. Very importantly for me, Baumgarten and Chul, also consider it in a multichannel context by stating the need to “provide consistent experience and share learning across channels.”


If you are interested and, preferably, in UK local government please complete the survey, it doesn’t take long at all. I’ll keep feeding back through these pages, which are also covered by localgov.co.uk and PSF.