The Local Government Association has responded to the accusation that the public sector lags behind business, and particularly supermarkets, in serving customers. It examined how customer information is used to manage performance. The research covered a wide range of customer information such as demographic data, complaints, information from surveys and consultations as well as customer satisfaction.The purpose of the research was to find out what businesses could teach local government about understanding their customers. The main findings are that organisations with a customer focus make the use of customer data a priority and champion this at senior level. Those organisations which are responsive to customers put real drive and energy behind this approach. They champion the customer view throughout the organisation.and invest in skills and resources. Successful organisations invest in people and systems to ensure that customer data is timely, robust and interpreted so that it is useful to the right people at the right time. They invest time in clarifying the purpose of the data to be used. The data needs to support decision-making and not be led by the technology or what is already available. The leadership of the organisation determines what data is needed not the technical experts.
The research also revealed that the private sector ‘segment’ their customers and define their key customer groups. They also understand their needs and behaviour eg by location, age, gender, life stage, income, ethnicity. Segmentation is essential for creating a shared understanding of “who are our customers and what does this mean for them?” It provides opportunities to tailor communications and services to customers.
Published by the LGA and available at: http://www.lga.gov.uk/Documents/Publication/puttingcustomerfirst.pdf