Exceeding everyone’s expectations

13 October 2014

Sue Holloway, Northgate Public Services

As someone who tends to buy online rather than browse in person, it’s great when retailers make it easier for me. Only a few years ago the appearance of a simple shopping cart on a website would have made me a happy customer, but the explosion in smartphone and tablet use has forced a retail revolution and transformed my expectations in the process.  

If a webpage displays badly on my tablet, I’ll use a competitor’s app instead, and if my parcel languishes in a depot until there’s an exact match between my diary and the courier’s schedule, I will buy my presents elsewhere. The growth in click-and-collect services at post offices, newsagents and now even train stations is just one example of how retailers are responding to the rising expectations of increasingly demanding consumers.  

But for every one of me, there will be someone who prefers to hit the high street and expects something different as a result; a good range of products sold in a friendly and helpful environment.

We both expect great customer service but we value different things. 

Councils like North Lanarkshire are putting this consideration and the digital-by-default agenda at the heart of their transformation programmes. From the online service designed specifically for social care users to the mobile app that allows tenants to report a repair to the housing contractor within 15 seconds, the Council’s starting point was both the needs and expectations of different groups of users.  

By keeping close to its citizens, understanding what suits different groups and creating the right balance between online and face-to-face, the Council has been able to deliver great customer service to everyone, keep costs down and free up staff to deliver yet more improvements.  

This creates a virtuous circle that is delivering a quiet revolution for both North Lanarkshire Council and its citizens. This is a trend to watch.