Abdool Kara 27 March 2008

Plugged In

Plugged In image
Recent experiences suggest that ‘satisfaction’ is seen as top of the performance tree, a position I personally cannot understand. 
For a start we know that satisfaction scores vary according to methodology – eg postal vs face-to-face surveys – although the latter option no longer exists for the new Place Survey.
Secondly, we have barely started to understand how/why satisfaction varies according to such factors as ethnic mix and population churn, which prevent secure comparisons across councils, although I’m sure that my companion columnist Ben Page from Ipsos-MORI will be able to shed much light about these issues.
Thirdly, satisfaction varies according to the investment made in communications. On the one hand, communicating with residents and service users is undeniably a good thing. But the resulting outcomes are then in part a reflection of spend on communications activities, rather than quality of services per se. So we have to ask how to best achieve a reasonable balance between spending more on communications to drive increases in satisfaction, and spending money on direct service improvement?
Lastly, we also know that satisfaction is directly related to expectations – punters who have low aspirations of services return higher satisfaction levels. This begs an interesting question about whether our job is to drive expectations up or down. And this will become more complicated as we move into the world of choice and voice - commissioning personalised social and other services. A major aspect of this new role will be supporting service users to be clear on their expectations, and as a result make informed judgements about their choice of providers.
This is a different paradigm – its not about driving up satisfaction with our own services, but about supporting informed decision-making by users. The concept of ‘Net promoter score’ fits nicely here – the idea that the only question worth asking is ‘Would you recommend this service to a friend?’ It also drives a new kind of client-provider split, with the Council firmly on the side of the client, even if the provider is ‘in-house’.
Once upon a time the Rolling Stones couldn’t get (no) satisfaction. Now it is our job to help those of that generation to understand what service quality they should expect, help them to voice that choice, and then drive the market to provide it. Then maybe Mick and his cohort will, finally, be able to get what they want.
 Abdool Kara is deputy chief executive at Merton LBC
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Child and Family Support Worker

Essex County Council
Plus Excellent Benefits
The purpose of this role is to work within frontline teams to support the delivery of effective Children's Social Work. England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Part Time Community Rail Partnership Officer

Essex County Council
£24000 - £26275 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
Please note that this position is being offer on a part time basis, covering 23 hours per week. Working Pattern TBC. England, Essex, Rochford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Duty Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£19,554 - £21,166
The successful candidate will work across a rota pattern that includes regular evening and weekend working and will be responsible for... Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Business Support Officer - Learning and Early Support

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
Duties will include... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Plant and Motor Vehicle Technician - 3 jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
You will carry out vehicle inspections, servicing, maintenance and repairs to vehicles and plants operated by Kirklees Council in... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how public sector organisations can unlock the hidden value in their land, and why a new approach to construction could help boost the outcomes of the Government’s One Public Estate programme.

The December issue also considers why learnings from ancient cities could provide the key to promoting wellbeing in the modern built environment. It also contains a case study on how the London Borough of Westminster has provided high quality care for the elderly alongside a block of luxury apartments.

Register for your free digital issue