No contact

September 21, 2010

Purely by chance, when checking a reference in my dissertation, I thought I’d look up what was happening with the Contact Council, one of a number of committees set up by the Cabinet Office during the previous regime. However, what I did find was that it is no more. It has been disbanded.

It was revealed in the 2009 Channel Strategy Guidance that its aim was to build a “comprehensive channels performance data ‘dashboard’ to aid departments and other public sector organizations to create and implement effective channel strategies”.

I presume another budget-saving cut. However, in the absence of NI14 and the Audit Commission, what would be the point of it remaining? It did come out with some good practice, some time after those practices had been promoted here and elsewhere but I’m not sure that without some drive from higher up the Whitehall food-chain it would have embedded that across government.

We could still do with a champion of service delivery good practice. Any volunteers?


NI14 is dead, long live parsimony!

April 4, 2010

Having announced the departure of NI14, the question entered my head what happens to monitoring “failure demand“? If authorities were at least trying to track usage on channels and report back to services where they were failing, the measure (NI14) may have had some value, no matter how overcooked it was!

Instead, we now possibly have a vacuum in the understanding of multiple and cross-channel service delivery.

So, what to do? Well the last three years or more of my research have resulted in this model:

indicating that a suitable way of monitoring channel shift, improving channel shift and possibly improving service across all channels is to record usage and (dis)satisfaction across ALL citizen channels. It’s no use picking on one channel, you have no way of knowing where the variation occurs.

anybody thinking about this might consider one of the tools on my Company table V8 or develop something similar of their own, but if they want to manage channel shift, along with improving service delivery, they should consider employing what I continue to call Citizen Engagement Management ( a tool to understand how citizens respond across multiple channels to how services are attempted to be delivered).

Improving service

January 12, 2010

The Socitm Customer Access Improvement Service has published its latest (December 2009) report, which is Issue 3. It has received a great detail of reportage for its emphasis on poorly performing council web sites. I’m not sure that quite so much can be read from the cumulative data, and a bit like National Indicator 14 “avoidable contact”  believe these analyses need to take place at a more granular level and thing some of the assumptions are very subjective!

I also have a concern that a document from Socitm is making statements like the one on page 3 “The country cannot afford the current scale of the public sector.” This is a broad brush attack on all government, so includes local authorities and health trusts. This is not a decision for an IT managers organization, it’s one for the electorate since some countries, as we know, have a much higher scale of expenditure. What really matters is the quality being delivered for that expenditure, if its too high a quality or too low, the public have to decide. If too much is being spent they have to decide what services are no longer required, or whether services they can do without are being delivered. Ultimately this is the value of applications such as that used by GovMetric or the others named on my list (see below) – they give the public an opportunity to comment on the value of services delivered.

According to the report there are now 56 councils providing GovMetric data but of these only one is acknowledged to be recording data across the three major channels in one directorate or service only, which is not ideally what we should be achieving if we are to understand channel shift or manage channels at all.

Big things continue to be made about South Tyneside’s apparent channel shift around waste management, which they achieved by developing their web site as a result of feedback through the service, I would argue that all channels need to be improved and this is an end-to-end reform of services, since channels are only the presentation layer. We have a lot more experience with the face-to-face and telephone channels and have obviously some experience at delivering them, but the web is the new kid on the block, it can’t at the moment be interactive in the sense of the Turing machine.

I believe getting feedback from citizens is the way forward but I have doubts about making too much of it from the higher level generalizations that Socitm makes and I must say that the one promoted by Socitm is not the only solution – have a look at the list – Company table V8.

UPDATE – I’ve been asked by Alex Chapman of GovMetric to update on a few possible inaccuracies between my reading of the Socitm CAIS report and the state of play with GovMetric, which I am posting below –

  • “There are currently 59 authorities signed up to GovMetric with a further 9 housing associations; so, there are just under 70 users in total
  • More importantly, almost all of these are using GovMetric in a multi-channel approach measuring customer feedback and performance across at least 3 channels (F2F, phone and web) and across typically 8 services
  • An increasing number are also linking this feedback data to E&D and customer segmentation groups as well to increase their insight about what customers needs are, their experiences and their channel preferences.


I agree with you whole heartedly that, “if we are to understand channel shift or manage channels at all”, we do need to go beyond one service or even one channel; this is not the case with GovMetric, neither in concept nor in practice.  From a GovMetric perspective, customer feedback is not the only thing that matters, but being able to understand service demand by service, by channel, as well.”

NI14 – the latest!

May 21, 2009

The IDeA have published a four page NI14 update IDeA May 2009 on their Community of Practice web site on the one around National Indicator 14.

The reason for the publication is that the closing date for submission from councils was 30th April 2009 and 350 have apparently submitted. As they are kind enough to highlight the Audit Commission has advised that NI14 is a non-comparable indicator i.e. not a TARGET.

They also state that “The IDeA will continue to gather evidence of both improvements to customer experience and efficiency savings resulting from NI14 data being used as a lever for service improvement and capacity building.”

I’m also examining the use that’s being made of NI14 in my own survey, but also looking at other options.

Behind the Vanguard

January 22, 2009

Just when you were thinking that John Seddon had been quiet for a while, up pops a paper on the topic of NI14, what more can I or anyone say, just read it –