Qmatic survey “Citizen Flow in Local Government” reveals that a strong desire to improve service is hindered by a lack of technology and internal politics
Bedfordshire – 14 February 2012 – More than half (53%) of the senior decision-makers in local government think that improving the way they link citizens to the correct department will make them a more efficient or streamlined operation. However, a significant number (43%) are challenged by the perceived cost and ability to secure sign-off for improvement projects at director level, according to a new survey by Qmatic. A third of respondents say that a lack of technology is also a hurdle when it comes to developing ways to connect the public with appropriate government staff.
In the report, called “Citizen Flow in Local Government” which was conducted on behalf of the world leader and innovator in customer flow management (CFM), 43% claim they would derive tangible cost savings from efficiencies and 40% say that effective CFM would result in less duplication between public services.
According to the Qmatic survey, over a third (36%) of local government executives say that gathering valuable management information on the real-time physical experience and movement of the public at government sites is necessary, yet only a quarter (27%) are already developing ways to do it.
David Anahory, UK CEO at Qmatic explains, “Streamlining the physical delivery of services makes perfect sense in the public sector where there is tremendous pressure to do more with less. Our extensive experience of working with local authorities such as Ashford, Ipswich and Swindon Borough Councils as well as agencies such as the Passport Office, points to demonstrable cost and efficiency savings from effective CFM.”
Anahory continues, “In practice this can mean consolidating the cost of office space overheads with a single-site, multi-agency service operation. Real-time management information can also allow authorities to continually enhance service improvements and better plan resource and staffing. And, of course duplication and waste can be minimised by getting the right solution for visitors, first time and reducing appointment no-shows.”
Efficiency is cited as a major benefit to local government, with almost two thirds (63%) of survey respondents saying that gathering citizen information will make them a more efficient operation. Almost a third (30%) claim it would create more effective use of staff rotas and over a quarter (27%) say efficiency would be improved by a more streamlined and effective office layout.
The benefits extend beyond cost cutting and efficiencies too, according to the Qmatic survey. Over two thirds, (67%) of local authorities think that a better public experience is the most significant benefit and half (50%) think they would gain a valuable understanding of citizens’ use of facilities.
Over a quarter (27%) think that their local government authority fairs worse than most when it comes to citizen flow. The majority (72%), do see it as a priority yet under a quarter (23%) of respondents said they had plans to improve customer queuing and waiting.
The two most popular ways to gather information about citizens is using cameras and software to track them around locations or by monitoring questionnaires (both 63%). A quarter (25%) use historical data or touch screen questionnaires to create projections, and manage resource and staffing schedules within their authority.
Of the challenges involved when trying to improve and gather information about the physical flow of visitors through local government sites, cultural issues seem to play a significant role. Around a third of respondents (37%) cited resistance from senior members of staff, 33% said there would be general resistance to changing technology and 30% from the IT department. However, the biggest concern, cited by over half (53%), was the initial cost of new development projects.
In excess of half (57%) of local government are looking to utilise buffered* queuing as a method of improving queuing and waiting. A further 29% plan to place media screens in the queuing area, implement voice announcing technology or web-based booking systems.
“The same number (29%) plan to increase the number of advisors in place to assist visitors,” concludes Anahory. “Yet, with effective CFM in place, this shouldn’t be necessary. The beauty of the CFM technologies and systems is that it frees the time burden on existing employees to attend to more important, skilled and meaningful tasks. This greatly enhances the effectiveness, morale, engagement and satisfaction of valuable staff and helps to optimise training and support needs.”
In fact, a third of those surveyed say it would allow them to reallocate staff to aid with demand and 30% pointed to better use of skilled staff.
CFM encompasses the gathering of management information, waiting, queue management and routing citizens to correct person or department. Solutions can range from barriers, through to both independent and networked virtual and linear queue management systems, to mobile phone applications, kiosk systems and new media.
The Qmatic research was conducted by specialist IT market research consultancy, Vanson Bourne among 30 senior decision makers in the 433 local government agencies in the UK; which represents almost 15% of the potential national market.
To learn more about customer flow management, for a copy of Citizen Flow in Local Government or to register for an event ‘Customer Flow at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’ on 22 March 2012 call +44 (0)1234 757110 or visit http://www.q-matic.com/uk/
*A single file queuing system usually organised with barriers, which culminates in multiple points of service. A member of staff or an automated voice or digital forwarding system usually calls customers forward from the queue to the next available advisor.
Qmatic is the world leader and innovator in Customer Flow Management (CFM) solutions that are designed to increase sales and productivity while reducing costs for organisations in the retail, retail finance, public healthcare and travel sectors. Its software, hardware and consultancy helps organisations such as Ashford Borough Council, Canterbury City Council, DVLA, Ipswich Borough Council, Post Office, Swindon Borough Council and UK Border Authority to value time within the physical customer experience and derive real-time management information (MI) that powers meaningful business decisions. This MI can drive important considerations such as in-store/branch/location skills routing, store layout and design, employee training and job satisfaction, customer loyalty and retention, brand equity, opportunity sales, real-time feedback and problem resolution as well as efficiency and cost control. Qmatic’s services range from barriers through to both independent and networked virtual and linear queue management systems, to mobile phone applications, kiosk systems and new media.
Natalie Sutton/Danielle Cook
07768 026197 / 07900 521 525
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