Better answered? A snapshot of local authority telephone responses
Produced by: Socitm Insight
This is the first Better answered? survey of how easy and effective it is for citizens to contact their local council over the telephone.
We explain the purpose of our survey, the methodology that we have used to support our assessments and the policy context by which the results and key messages should be assessed. In particular, the recently-published Varney Report on service transformation provides the backdrop for our research.
2 Presenting information about telephone contact
Our review team surveyed the websites of all local authorities in the UK, to find out how well they present information about contacting local government by telephone. We also tested their out-of-hours phone messages, to see how helpful these were. From this, we have drawn up a model list of contents for telephone contact information, which just eight councils matched, or come close to matching.
3 Handling telephone enquiries
The telephone survey was based on the scenario of a person moving to a new area and in particular on enquiries related to education (children moving to new schools) and planning (enquirer wanting to convert part of a house to office use). From this, we tell the stories of three good 'customer journeys' experienced by our reviewers, contrasted with two poor experiences.
Much progress has clearly been made in the way in which councils now deal with members of the public on the phone; much, however, remains to be done. From this wide-ranging research we have identified eight key messages about information management and customer service. We also evaluate the results against the standards from the NeSDS framework for customer service. The recommendations from the Varney Report resonate clearly with our findings and point the way forward for a corporate and fully integrated approach to customer service.
Last modified: 25th January 2010
Better answered - Executive briefing (54.32 KB PDF)
Results from telephone enquiries (264 KB XLS)
Survey of telephone information (1.49 MB XLS)