There have never been richer sources of customer data available than right now. But how do you turn this information into insight, and turn insight into action?
We are living in the day of targeted social media ads based on your recent google searches and suggested products on Amazon based on your previous buying patterns. This even extends to over-the-counter transactions – it’s not luck that your Tesco club card discount vouchers are for all your favourite weekly items. These are obvious examples of moving customer insight to action.
But for local government, this could be seen as being more difficult. I’ve never seen an advert on Facebook about my Council Tax payments or a suggested purchase of a green waste sack because I’ve recently bought a new recycling bin… although, there’s a thought!
Despite targeted ads not being a tactic of local government customer insight, the sector needs to notice and utilise the unique data it holds. Councils have the ability to gather a plethora of data relating to their target audience, be that data from the census, council tax records, birth and death registrations, school applications or social care data. By definition, a council’s target audience is finite – limited to the population of any given geography. This should be used to the advantage of the sector. It makes the process of using this data easier – if you know the needs, trends and access patterns of your customer base you can change service provision, funding, resourcing and priorities to fit this.
Customer experience is the key beneficiary of acting upon this insight. Services must be easy to access. With a captive target audience, local government has a monopoly in the sense that a customer is unable to ‘choose’ a provider for (some of) those services. The combination of statutory services to provide and a captive target audience means the sector is best placed to optimised customer experience using insight and experience from service users.
One council doing some great work has developed detailed insights from their existing household data. They have been able to adopt an early intervention and prevention approach to help families effected by low incomes and benefit changes. Using housing benefits, council tax arrears and DWP data the council was able to identify residents and tailor support before they reached crisis point. By understanding where their most deprived areas are, the council have been able to create long term solutions for those in need of support. Over 17,000 residents have received benefits and employability advice and 4,700 claimants received support with personal budgeting and digital skills so they can access online services. The work has resulted in families having better financial outcomes and has achieved an estimated £4 million in cost avoidance.
It’s clear, therefore, that the customer information and insight local government hold on their customers and the importance of this cannot be understated. However, for Human Engine, we believe insight is only one of six core themes to understanding and improving customer experience. We’re currently developing our Customer Experience Maturity Model where we put forward a case for strategy, culture and skills, performance, demand management, digital and customer insight all to be critical in an organisation's approach to customer experience.
Register here to keep up to date with its development.