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Local government: How to improve service and reduce costs

Public sector organisations know it can be a challenge to cost-justify investment in service improvement.  But our local government clients have shown that by following a three step process for using customer feedback to drive service improvement, customer satisfaction can be a financial benefit in the public sector - just as much as it is for businesses.

Many local authorities are still caught in the trap of depending on an annual residents survey to determine service performance.  The lack of actionability this delivers can make it something like a school report with the much-feared head master’s message saying “must try harder” - without making it clear about why, at what, or how!

But with a more actionable approach to measuring customer experience, some of our clients have been able to identify potential service failures and monitor, and actively manage, the performance of their internally and externally resourced service delivery processes.

Their success has come about by using customer experience measurement as an ongoing performance management tool, looking inwardly to act as a feedback control mechanism to drive continuous improvement.  They did this by implementing a three step measurement strategy:



Before implementing the programme they found that process and system failures, and other “human factors”, contributed to a range of service delays, and sometimes service requests slipping though the net and remaining completely unactioned.

Service delays often lead to customers calling back to repeat, or escalate their requests.  Inaction or a delayed response from local authorities can often lead to more costly solutions being required later, and sometimes to a risk of property damage and public safety.

By using ongoing measurement to routinely “close the loop” with customers, and by measuring performance at the level that action need to be taken, it helps to identify the specific request types, processes, systems, departments, service crews and contractors involved in each service failure.

Using these findings as part of their routine performance management activities to drive continuous improvement, the councils were able to reduce service request call-handling demand in their call centre by as much as 13%, reduced prematurely-closed service requests by 30%, and increase customer satisfaction by 10%.

“Hats of” to their service managers and teams for achieving great savings for their councils and a fantastic example of how to improve service AND reduce costs by turning customer experience measurement into management actions!


For additional reading about measuring and managing customer experience in local government please feel free to visit our local government “industry perspectives” page, or if we can help you in this area please get in touch, and we can schedule a chat.


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About the author: Paul Linnell

Paul LinnellPaul Linnell is a service improvement champion, working internationally with senior managers and their teams to help them achieve business success, reduce risk and build customer loyalty and advocacy by improving service to customers.  Paul specialises in the design and deployment of customer experience measurement, service quality improvement, complaints handling and preventive analysis programmes.  For most of his career he has worked in Europe and North America and for the past 10 years Paul has been based in New Zealand, continuing to serve clients globally.

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