Officials admit failure to maximise data

New research shows central government departments and agencies lag behind the private sector’s use of data to improve customer experience.

Whitehall bodies are lagging behind the private sector in using data effectively to improve customer experience, according to new research.

A survey carried out by PublicTechnology’s sister title Civil Service World on behalf of Tata Consultancy Service (TCS),  found 31% of central government respondents said their organisation was not using all available data to create a personalised journey for the customer.

This was significantly higher than the rate of failure within the private sector, at only 19%

The report said: “Public sector organisations are awash with citizen data but are still searching for the Holy Grail – being able to use it effectively to inform policy making, join up services and improve customer experience.”

A further 29% of respondents said that their organisation was not using unstructured data in real time to proactively meet customer needs.

Unstructured data is that which is not easily organised in databases or spreadsheets, such as comments from conversations through contact centres.

In addition, the report found that almost a quarter (22%) of government employees believe their employer is not currently encouraging full information transparency between customers, employees and partners. Perhaps more encouragingly, this is slightly better than private sector performance, where 25% gave a similar answer.

The TCS survey also discovered that 27% of government respondents said that their employer does not ensure the employee experience stimulates customer experience, with only 7% doing it extensively.

This contrasts with the private sector where only 7% were not doing it, with 21% doing it extensively.

However, more than half of respondents said their organisations were measuring the impact of partners on the customer experience. Only 12% said they were not doing so at all, compared to a quarter in the private sector.

The report concluded: “The public sector clearly has some way to go in reaching the standards of customer experience in some parts of the business world. 

“There are some big problems facing government in culture, technology and data sharing. However, the coalition government’s digital strategy, released in 2013, is a sign that all of these issues are acknowledged at the top level of government. 

“It takes time to turn around a tanker, particularly with many legacy contracts still to run down.”

The white paper was based on a survey of 373 public officials in central government departments and arm’s length bodies to assess current customer experience practice and plans.

Respondents worked at all levels from administrative assistant to senior civil service grades, in roles ranging from operational delivery to tax and policy professionals.

View the full research here.


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