Social value runs to the core of local authorities – their reason for existing is to serve their local population. But how can you do that effectively if you’re not truly listening to what residents are telling you?
Over the last 18 months, IMPOWER has worked in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to develop an innovative solution that is helping the council to analyse and understand feedback and act on it accordingly.
The Listening Tool has been a revelation for its customer services team – turning preconceived ideas and assumptions on their head and opening the door to insight that is informing everything from investment in services to staff development. The council can now quickly filter through comments from thousands of residents and develop a clear picture of what they’re saying.
Hemali Cheema, Head of Customer Experience, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, says the tool has transformed her job. “Before the Listening Tool, even trying to break down data was impossible. It has saved so much time and helped me in so many ways. It helps me to see across the board where we are in terms of the customer journey and shows up where the biggest problems are. We can drill down to particular groups, such as those who might be struggling financially. It helps us to support residents in a more targeted way, for example during Covid it helped us to see where the vulnerable residents are and where extra support is needed. I can pinpoint an issue down to a particular service and then go away and work together with them to resolve it. It shows us where best to invest our time and money.”
Word has spread around the organisation and more and more staff are eager to find out what it can offer their service areas. One of the commissioners admits that embarking on the prototype with us was ‘a leap of faith’. However, IMPOWER’s consultants’ deep understanding of local government and empowering way of working has equipped staff to take the tool forward as the definitive feedback mechanism to track customer sentiment.
Sophie Ellis, Director of Customer Delivery, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, says: “IMPOWER saw how it could be applicable to our sector – we didn’t! They helped us to work that through and gave us the confidence to take it forward. IMPOWER have got a really good understanding of how local authorities work and were able to quickly understand what we needed to create to drive culture change, build something and make it relevant to individuals dealing with customers – applying it to day-to-day reality.” As a result, IMPOWER has a blueprint for helping councils across the country to drive greater social value from their services, including an approach to embed the tool so teams appreciate its power and versatility. But the ultimate winners are those who live and work in the borough as they now have a local authority that’s genuinely all ears.
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