Improving the ease with which councils services can be used is a priority for just one in five senior officers involved in service reform, a new survey has found.
Almost two thirds of the 247 council chief executives, directors, managers and senior officers polled by consultancy Serco did not collect or analyse customers’ views on their user experience of council services.
Despite 92% of respondents agreeing that understanding customer experiences was important in driving changes, fewer than one in 10 (9%) said they thoroughly tested user experiences at the beginning, during, and end of the implementation of a redesigned service.
At a roundtable discussion in London, Melton BC chief executive Lynn Aisbett said that was due to “cost and time” pressures.
“We haven’t got all of the resources we would like,” she said. “You are forever juggling resources.”
However, Ms Aisbett recognised understanding users’ experiences was valuable and could bring savings.
“It’s not just about demand management, it’s about demand reduction,” she said. “Customer service input is important.”
Sophie Payne, head of customer experience and communications at Buckinghamshire CC, said: “If you put customers at the centre from the get-go, the savings will follow naturally.”
Angela Bucksey, assistant director of property at Hertfordshire CC, said her council tried to get the perspective of different users when redesigning services but it could be difficult to find the right mix of individuals.
Ms Bucksey also said getting council staff to embrace different ways of working can be problematic.
“Tackling culture [in the workforce] is the hardest thing to do,” she said.