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Digital Citizen: how data can fix your residents’ biggest frustrations

What’s impacting residents’ experience with their local council? Amplifi look at how to fix their frustrations with data.

How well do you know your citizens? Understanding your residents as people – not just names attached to a postcode – is key to maintaining resident satisfaction and keeping your citizens engaged in their local area. Yet data issues are preventing local authorities from getting the full picture on their residents, and it’s creating problems that should be easy to avoid.

Here, we look at some of the biggest frustrations your residents experience when they engage with your council – and how a single source of data could provide the answer.

Passed from pillar to post

There is nothing quite as frustrating as being passed from pillar to post when you contact any organisation – let alone your own local authority. If residents have to repeatedly explain an issue or concern as they go from one department to another, they will become increasingly irritated and, unfortunately, it tends to be your staff who bear the brunt of their frustrations. Residents should have a simple, direct way to contact the relevant department in your council and – if data is readily available – whoever they talk to should be able pull up their details and pick up the conversation wherever the last person left it.

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Impersonal service

Building a sense of community is important for local authorities, but residents won’t feel that ‘community spirit’ if their communications with their council are impersonal, distant, and frustrating. Every department should be able to access centralised data on residents, so that no matter who is dealing with a citizen’s enquiry, they have all of the information they need: not just to deal with the issue at hand, but to communicate with the resident in a personal, considerate way.

Insensitivity

Some of your residents will use your services for sensitive matters: for instance, social care, health and wellbeing. If vulnerable people are contacting your council, they should be able to expect the same level of care and sensitivity whether they are contacting you about their refuse collection or important social care concerns. Using data effectively means that you can give accurate background information on vulnerable citizens to employees across the business. Tightening up data in this way is also a valuable safeguard against people, or critical information relating to them, ‘falling through the cracks.’

Time-consuming processes

Thanks to the digital revolution, people today expect everything in an instant. Of course, that’s not always going to be possible for a local authority to offer on ever service – some council matters are more complicated or sensitive than others – but basic tasks should be quick and easy for residents to complete online.

Need a new wheelie bin? Want to change your council tax direct debit? Submitting a complaint? Changing your personal details?

Residents shouldn’t have to call you (and sit on hold for 20 minutes) to carry out these simple actions. They also shouldn’t have to complete a lengthy form and fill in every personal detail, every time they have a problem or request. With good data management, citizens should be able to access an online portal that centralises these services, making it quick and easy to access them.

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What’s stopping local councils from addressing these frustrations?

The short answer: data management. Specifically, poor data management.

In our guide to local authority data guide – Citizen MDM – we looked in detail at some of the biggest issues impacting local council’s data strategies, finding that the root cause of many residents’ frustrations with their local authority’s service boiled down to information not being available in the right place, at the right time.

Data siloes

There’s no shortage of data in local authorities – the problem is that those vast volumes of data can’t always be accessed when and where they’re needed. Data is pocketed in different departments, on different systems, in different formats, making it impossible for information to flow easily between one council team and another. In some cases, authorities are still struggling to digitise paper records and advance beyond manual data reporting, making it harder to centralise complete, accurate records.

Legacy technology

One of the biggest causes of those data siloes? Legacy technology. Old, out of date and disconnected system are preventing local councils from tackling their data problems and unifying their information into one source. In particular, that technology disconnect between departments is making it difficult to join the data dots, with incompatible on-premise software and systems both preventing access to data and making the idea of a technology upgrade a daunting prospect.

Migration

Speaking of daunting prospects, fear of migration to new digital processes has become a significant blocker for local councils. With so much personal information at stake, and such varied levels of digital competency across the organisation, there are a lot of ways that migrations can go wrong – but only if they aren’t handled correctly. Migrations don’t need to feel like a big, sudden upheaval if the right groundwork is in place, and the right support is provided. A successful migration starts by connecting your people with the data they use, addressing data governance, improving data quality and taking the right steps to seamlessly migrate every department to a new, central data solution (like an MDM platform).

How to achieve the ‘golden record’ on every citizen

The only sure-fire way for local authorities to address their citizens’ frustrations is to establish a ‘golden record’ on every resident: one, centralised source of truth that can be accessed throughout the organisation. Yet getting your hands on the golden record isn’t as simple as buying the right software and plugging it in. First, you need to break down data siloes, address your data quality, put robust data governance in place, and tackle data literacy across the organisation. Then it’s a case of selecting the right technology for your needs and ensuring that everyone knows how to use it effectively.

If your citizens – and employees – are feeling the frustration of poor data management in your local authority, read our guide written in partnership with SemarchyCitizen MDM – to find out how data can help you to connect with residents, improve efficiency and boost your social impact.

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Download our guide to Citizen MDM!

In this guide written in partnership with Semarchy, we cover how you can better serve your citizens through better data management, including:

  • How to create a single version of the truth for every citizen
  • Building a business case with benefits of 'good' data management
  • How to combat data siloes around your organisation
  • Creating a data culture and general understanding of data literacy
  • Assessing your citizen data journey, and how to get where you need to be...
Download Guide