A useful post (bk-ni14-dec-2008) on the ESD-Toolkit forum, that some won’t have access to is a two page document from Bob Kamall of the Cabinet Office. It comes in response to issues raised at the Tower 8.5 event in London that I attended. It does provide a little clarity and may calm a few concerned individuals and authorities, giving them time to get their acts together and do it right.
A recent survey from supplier Rostrvm included the addendum that:
“Other problems identified by the contact centres include the ambiguity of what is required (19%), the necessity of training staff to comply (11%) and preparing the back office and service support systems to handle the extra data (10%). A further 8% would struggle due to a lack of resources and time constraints. Just 4% of the local authorities surveyed did not perceive any problems preventing them from meeting the target. ”
I was actually surprised at the large numbers doing anything, although at the recent Tower NI14 event I was the only one who admitted their authority wasn’t being particularly active, I suspect I was the only one stupid enough to do so in front of the Audit Commission and Government Office!
The problem demonstrated by the survey is that in its true conception the indicator is not just for call centres and should cover all citizen contact be that face-to-face, email or web, so it needs to be dealt with as a CORPORATE issue! I wonder how many can truly say that?
The fact that ‘avoidable contact’ or whatever is not just for call centres is proven by The ‘Half-yearly review and results summary’ of the Socitm/Govmetric Customer Access Improvement Service where on page 8 was the revelation that not all channels are equal that whilst telephony was favoured for many there was an clear lead on the web for adult services and that in satisfaction terms the web was less satisfactory across all the services listed! This is a clear vote for Citizen Engagement Exchange to dig into the reasons why, especially when most of those using the telephone for all services were satisfied. I’m afraid the publication is for users and Socitm Insight subscribers so I can’t link to it here, but it just proves what those of us looking at the breadth of channels will have realised! It also showed just how great the web channel usage was compared with the others…despite lack of satisfaction.
Having mentioned GovMetric and Mavis over recent months I felt it fair to list the other suppliers of systems specialising in NI14 and/or satisfaction, other than the pure customer relationship management (CRM) systems that have been adapted to record ‘avoidable contact’. If anybody knows any other systems, please let me know. I’m not saying that any are any good, and I know some are very expensive and some quite limited but one of these days I’ll prepare a comparison chart:
Another two added on the 20th November:
A brief comparison table added as a PDF 21 November 2008: company-table
I travelled to an event today (3rd November 2008) hosted near the Tower of London all about National Indicator 14 for some further discussion of it. On the journey I was reviewing the literature about gaps and concluded that life was to short to cope with detailed gap analysis, so I’m hypothesising that citizen engagement feedback can be used to handle them, but hopefully that will all come out at the EiP conference in a week’s time!
Rather than a verbatim report, thought I’d pick up on the highlights or useful points that came out at the conference…
One of the introductions was by Sarah Fogden, reported to be inventor of NI14 and arch-nemesis of John Seddon, originator of the concept of demand failure, which Sarah highlighted by stating that she didn’t mind what the indicator was called but one was needed to satisfy the process-driven people at Whitehall, when I’d always thought they were target-driven and thought that all our problems would be solved if they were lead by process or system! She also tied the words ‘holistic’ and ‘transformation’ together – I wonder what Jan Smuts the South African statesman would think were he still around eighty years on? (Smuts’ definition – “The tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution”.
She did say to focus upon the key priorities of the organisation, use the CRM system to assist; that there is no right way to do it and that the overall figure for NI14 is meaningless…
Tom Wraith of the Audit Commission had little new to say but was still interesting when he stated that NI14 was:
- the most frequently queried indicator
- unlike most indicators
- had far less prescription
- moved on from BV157
- a tool for self-improvement
- AC won’t be directly comparing but they had a duty to make it public
- what’s included is up to you!
- The CLG edict that there was a need to ‘justify methodology’ was a little harsher than AC would have desired
- It would be used as part of the conversation/dialogue with authorities about managing resources
- Needed to be triangulated with the evidence
He was asked by Tony Hinkley who has been working for ESD-Toolkit on NI14 whether it was their intention to make it compulsory to use the Local Government Service List (LGSL) which I believe he confirmed?
Kate Batty from Tameside said that NI14 was not the whole answer but that ESD-Toolkit, Mosaic, customer journey mapping and customer service training were all part. Here words were that the order should be: people, process, then technology! One her snappy phrases was ‘lets stop worrying about measuring apples and pears and measure fruit’, which in NI14’s case was highly appropriate…
A fascinating presentation was made by Tom Benford upon the ‘call reduction strategy’ used at the DVLR. He stated that 60% of their customer wanted to use the ‘phone for service, despite frequently having got the number off the web site! In order to reduce avoidable contact and the number of telephone calls they’d looked at the end-to-end customer experience and the process times. As a result they’d made a number of changes:
- revised the direct.gov content
- put their the actual questions being asked on the web
- made their URL’s friendly
- put a link from the online directory enquiries to the web site
- adopted plain English
- redesigned customer-facing documents especially the highly used ones
- cross-referenced material with online content
- moved away from using form numbers
- agreed customer-meaningful turnaround times for metrics
- revised telephone book entries – put web site address first but also numbers which may not be their services but which the public think they do
One question revealed that despite not being NI14, the resultant transformation was possibly more effective than NI14
It was also stated that no local authority had included NI14 within their quota of targets for LAA…
NI14 had shifted to being outcome focused
Blackpool had realised that their ‘Customer First’ wasn’t working so they listened to customer demand for six weeks, wrote everything down and from this extracted 4000 demands, 121 of true value under seven broad themes. With their turnover of residents they found change of address to be the most frequent demand and focused upon that initially. Their motto was “in a perfect world, how would we serve the customer?”
A lesson from Halton to their staff when training was: “to think of it from the customer’s view!”
I hope the Cabinet Office don’t mind me publicising the fact that the presentations should be available on their web site.
Public Sector Forums have made a great deal of the fact that the IDeA guidance upon NI14 promoted GovMetric and only GovMetric as a possible solution.
I’ll declare some interests here, I have met wil rol the company that produce GovMetric and over a year ago had an academic discussion with them about the while concept of customer satisfaction and channel migration.The council I work for currently employs the Socitm solution for doing web site evaluation which partialy employs a tool produced by rol, who are working with Socitm to do service benchmarking. I am also a Socitm member, a member of my regional Socitm executive and also on the Local Government Chief Information Officer Council, which Socitm were recruited by central government to create.
I like the concept of GovMetric and haven’t seen anything other than built in CRM tools to match it and of course they don’t all come with the templates for web sites or a complete and designed-for-purpose suite of tools. There is Opinion-8, which I believe doesn’t work quite the same way either.
I’ll agree that it was daft for the IDeA to nominate one tool, I don’t think they could have avoided promoting the ESD-Toolkit, since its their child! However, I have yet to find anything conceptually up to GovMetric. We asked our web developers to build a tool into the web site CSS to collect feedback and they wanted a lot of money, it would probably have contributing to buying GovMetric, which isn’t cheap, and tying up the other channels!
What’s the solution? Horses for courses, I suspect, by the time people get around to trying to collect NI14 data manually they’ll realise what a time waster it is and plump for an electronic tool. What is needed in collecting the data is rigour and an awareness that NI14 is not the answer, the answer is feedback from staff and citizens about the systems we use, be they delivering answers by the web, telephone or face-to-face. We need to collect that feedback and act upon it but at the same time supply the required indicator.
Why do we need to do that? To instil confidence in the public that we mean to change, to transform. We do mean to do this, of course, but we need to demonstrate it! We also need to placate the Minister!