Headlines: April 13th, 2010

Local council chief executives are being given new advice to ensure their authorities’ websites are as effective as possible. A new briefing from experts at Socitm says some senior council staff may be surprised to learn that the majority of inquiries to a local authority are now received via its website.

The Socitm Insight briefing says chief executives should be asking three key questions about their websites now that most interaction takes place online. The questions cover the cost of failed visits to the website, the proportion of all enquiries coming via that route and the top ten things people come to the council site to do.

The new briefing. ‘What all council chief executives must ask about their website’, has been written especially for chief executives and in it Socitm argues that understanding the performance of an important customer access channel is now a legitimate concern for senior staff within a council. The briefing has been mailed to all chief executives and a longer version is available from Socitm’s website, www.socitm.org.uk, for Insight subscribers.

The document suggests senior managers in many councils still believe their website is a minority channel, and that most people prefer to use the telephone to contact them. Socitm says that while this may be what members of the public tell researchers, data about actual visits to council websites shows that for many enquiries, customers actually prefer the web.