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Showing posts from January, 2013

Don't focus on Facebook, deliver via digital

Local Governments have come a long way in the past couple of years in terms of communicating and listening to people via social media. The recent snow that affected much of the country showed that many councils now understand the power of delivering and distributing information this way.

This is great but I suggest it's time to move the focus on to the more difficult task of delivering services via digital. We've had the debate about social media, it's a good thing, lets start working on delivering the services that people want.

I know there are already councils that are doing some of this very well (and if you are, please get in touch, I'd like to promote it as good practice through LocalGov Digital) , but they're few and far between. There are also some that think they are, but aren't.

Let's take a hot topic at the moment for all councils that look after the roads, potholes, and put a checklist together:

Is there a page on your website to report potholes…

Hyperlocal and the 3 Councils

I recently joined and took part in a Google+ hangout on hyperlocals. When I say took part, I typed some text in the chat window and listened to everyone else speak. They knew far more than me, given they ran hyperlocal sites themselves and sometimes it's best just to shut up and listen.

I did it as a fact finding exercise to see how councils can help and support hyperlocals and hope to join in again. Some the conversation was actually about councils' attitudes towards hyperlocal.

What this and all my other research has taught me so far is that there seem to be three approaches to hyperlocals from councils. So here's the tale of "Hyperlocal and the 3 Councils". Of course the councils in the story are a work of fiction and in no way represent one single local authority.


The "we don't do it like that"s:
This type of council won't and don't engage with hyperlocals. Social media might be banned in their public meetings and they don't see hyp…

Could standard hashtags work?

Back in May 2012 I wrote about public sector organisations using common hashtags on Twitter for the London 2012 Torch Relay. Since then I've been talking with a few people about how Local Government could use common hashtags to represent its most used services.

I'm thinking for example, #bin to represent anything to do with Waste Services, #road for anything to do with Highways and so on. Tweets might look like

@AnyCouncil my #bin hasn't been collected

@AnyCouncil when do the roadworks on Station Road finish? #road

Before I go any further I should say I'm not proposing that these tags should be mandatory before customers get a reply. We're trying to make things easier for them, not add red tape.

So what could be achieved if customers used tags like this in their tweets? One application is an auto-response which also forwarded the enquiry to the people who are most likely to have the answer.

When I tweeted about this Marc Schmid quite rightly pointed out that "P…

Should everyone use Open311?

Last week I posted about how at the moment digital is the preferred channel for reporting broken streetlights, flooding, potholes, fly tipping and so on to us, referred to as Fault Reporting.

Then I read what Tom Steinberg wrote explaining what Open311 is better than I ever could, which got me thinking.

In 2011 I created an Open311 service which is plugged into our Fault Reporting functionality and therefore our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. I then did some work with the very knowledgeable people at Fix My Street (FMS) so that their site used the service. This means, that like our own Fault Reporting, stuff submitted via FMS gets automatically logged and assigned to the correct team.

You might ask why don't we just use FMS, but that's a debate for another day.

What got me thinking about Tom's post is that third party sites that don't use Open311 generally send requests for service through as an email which is far less efficient than creating the case …

Why was December the month of "Digital by Choice"?

In December 2012 more people chose digital to report problems to us about broken streetlights, flooding, potholes, fly tipping, litter, trees and shrubs and so on, than any other medium. The figures were:
Web 44%Phone 40%Email 15%Other 1% I feel proud for everyone who's worked on what we refer to as Fault Reporting, as looking at feedback, customers have chosen to use the service because they prefer it to any other medium we offer. It's a real example of "Digital by Choice", rather than "Digital by Default"; building a service so good that people want to use it, not forcing them to use it by closing or running down others.

It's not something that's happened overnight; we've been improving what we offer online for years based on customer, member and officer feedback. So, you might be asking, what are the main things you can do to improve take-up of your own digital Fault Reporting?


Make it more convenient

This one's easy. Our phone lines are…