Satisfaction levels out

February 2, 2010

The latest report from Larry Freed and Foresee Results (January 26, 2010) continues to use the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to benchmark a vast range of US government and agency web sites. The report continues to press the message that a good web site enhances trust, participation and service-delivery savings, which I don’t doubt.

In Larry’s words the argument is (p.20): “Providing a good experience for website visitors clearly has value, so it’s in an agency’s best interest to see where their weaknesses lie and make improvements in order to keep citizens happy. ”

Which means one has to get feedback from the users.

My own argument with Foresee and similar approaches is that whilst this is a great start many of the problems lie in process, in the back office, and resolving the channel issues may not get to the heart of the matter, although it may reveal symptoms.

Larry’s conclusiom on the data is that (p.22): “Although satisfaction with federal government sites remains flat this quarter from last quarter, it remains flat at an all-time high. When looking at satisfaction over the past five years, there is clearly an upward trend. This trend can be expected to continued if federal government agencies embrace Obama’s goals to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration through e-government.”

This applies internationally but let’s not forget that the web is essentially an information and service delivery mechanism, and the excluded are always with us.

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Communications overload

August 12, 2009

If anyone out there dares moan to me about too many emails let them pity President Obama! According to the blog of Ines Mergel, Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, NY. , he receives 100,000 emails a week, 6,500 paper letters/week, ~1,000 faxes per day, ~2,500-3,500 calls/day.

She argues for the need to develop tools to digest and extract from this mountain along with all the social networking communications he may be on the end of, or named in. Similar amounts of data will be received by governments and their leaders around the world, and could probably do with a tool, as well.

At least they count it, now for the analysis…

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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.

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Oysters and pearls

February 16, 2009

My current bedtime reading is biography of Lawrence Sterne. Sterne, who operated as a vicar outside York was apparently famed as a preacher but regularly got his source material from printed sermons that were available such as those by my old favourite Jonathan Swift.

I accidentally fell over this article on medical matters, Creative Dissatisfaction, and it its so appropriate I could almost follow Sterne borrowing from Swift. Not that I would date compare myself with either author. Perhaps the important thing is that this shows a doctor encouraging others doctors and patients to register their concerns on the Obama administration MyPolicy website in the US, to hopefully change things. I just hope the Obama administration makes use of the feedback they get!

I’ve come across a number of papers about improving patient satisfaction with medical treatment, which, in some ways parallels the customer versus citizen ambiguity that has been posed by managerialism. In the UK, we’ve had 60 years of a National Health Service, and as with government we are all shareholders in it, and also have rights and duties, particularly at the sharp end, as patients. If we are not satisfied we need to have the opportunity and confidence to say and the management need to adjust accordingly, if feasible.

Incidentally, Zuger’s paper can be found here, outside of the NEJM.


News from the USA

December 18, 2008

I have to thank Rachel Flagg of the US Federal Web Managers Group for posting their white paper on the W3C e-government Interest Group. It’s a very interesting expression of their wishes for the future from President-elect Obama’s government IT and as such it is promising. It’s only four pages long, which also makes a change from many documents, public and commercial.

If the Cabinet Office think the U.K. has problems, the report states that: “There are approximately 24,000 U.S. Government websites now online (but no one knows the exact number).”

It also states: “Many agencies focus more on technology and website infrastructure than improving content and service delivery. Technology should not drive our business decisions, but rather help us serve the needs of the American people.” To which I couldn’t agree more!

One of the plans is that citizens will: “Provide feedback and ideas and hear what the government will do with them.” – Which is what this blog is all about!

Importantly it wants government to:

“Ensure the public gets the same answer whether they use the web, phone, email, print, or visit in-person. Agencies should provide multiple ways for people to contact them and ensure that information is consistent across all channels. They should be funded to coordinate all types of content targeted to the general public (web, publications, call center, email, common questions, web chat, etc). Agencies should be rewarded for delivering consistent information, both within agencies and across government.”

In the words of parliamentarians, here, here!

In case anyone wonders there is a Public Sector Web Managers Group in the UK, small and beautifully-formed, which has a lot of Paul Canning in it…