Before the Government Digital Service there was the ‘Business Customer Insight Forum’, tasked with ensuring that public service design was led by ‘customer insight’. This is a ‘customer insight’ briefing I wrote for the senior management team at the Training and Development Agency for Schools in 2008.

The Cabinet Office seeks to establish ‘customer insight’ as a strategic asset in public service design.

CSR performance framework for government (October 2006) makes clear the need for effective customer engagement and personalisation in services. In his Review of Service Transformation, Sir David Varney recommended that cross-government work on customer insight be focused on the citizen and business perspective. A ‘Business Customer Insight Forum’ (BCIF) has been established to provide expert guidance, via the main Customer Insight Forum, to the Delivery Council on the use of business customer insight and engagement in relation to the Service Transformation Agreement, which says that:

  • Citizens’ time is not free, yet often the way public services are delivered assumes it to be so. The aim of this Service Transformation Agreement (STA) is to change public services so they more often meet the needs of people and businesses, rather than the needs of government, and by doing so reduce the frustration and stress of accessing them. The result will be services that are better for the customer, better for front line staff and better for the taxpayer.
  • Services are defined as: “the full range of interactions that take place between service provider and user via a designed business process”.

The BCIF exists to support cross-government business insight projects, including giving advice, joint resourcing, and work on cross departmental customer journeys. It also provides a forum for the sharing of both best practice and research findings and helps to keep account of key business insight activity in departments so that work is not duplicated in other areas and opportunities for joint working can be identified. The BCIF seeks to optimise service delivery channels.

‘Customer Journey Mapping’ is seen as key to gaining customer insights, and three types of journey mapping are outlined:

  • Customer experience mapping is a qualitative approach, focussed on emotional insights about a customer, in order to tell his or her story with passion and narrative. It’s a powerful way of engaging both staff and customers.
  • Mapping the system, or process mapping, maps the steps in process and identifies where to act to make the experience as easy, pleasant and efficient as possible.
  • Measuring the experience is a form of mapping that allows you to determine how well an experience is delivered. It can quantify the effect of changes and contribute to a business case.

Customer journey mapping helps to:

  • See things from the customer’s point of view
  • Deliver information, messages and services at the most appropriate time
  • Deliver a seamless, streamlined experience that cuts across silos by recognising where and when it makes sense to join things up for the customer
  • ‘Get it right’ when it really matters e.g. when emotions are highest or need greatest
  • Look at the current situation and the ‘ideal’ side-by-side, giving a chance to genuinely redraw the customer journey.

Customer journey mapping helps to build efficiencies in the following ways:

  • Bring about change across government in a way that cuts across silos
  • Target limited resource for maximum impact
  • Plan the most efficient and effective experience by reducing duplication and shortening the length of processes
  • Identify ‘baton-change’ points where service or communication breakdown is most likely
  • Identify problems and issues without attributing blame
  • Identify cheapest ‘cost to serve’
  • Set performance indicators and standards so that progress can be tracked and measured over time.