Four out of five of UK local government portals lack any detailed information on frequently asked questions (FAQs) or self-help sections, whilst over 50 per cent took longer than a week to answer emails requesting important local government information. This is a main conclusion of KANA, a provider of enterprise customer support and communications applications, on a recent survey which reveals many UK local authorities are paying lip-service to the e-government vision advocated by central government.
In spite of the successes of many groundbreaking projects, the survey reveals that authorities have yet to implement the technology and working processes needed to offer residents true, 24/7 access to information on local services.
Targeting a range of metropolitan and rural councils throughout the UK, the KANA survey reveals that local authorities are missing out on these potential savings – as well as becoming increasingly out of step with the residents they serve.
“Local government can no longer afford to dismiss the web as the domain of the technology aficionado,” commented Jyoti Choudrie, operations director of the Brunel Broadband Research Centre at Brunel University. ‘The rate of new broadband subscriptions is exploding: it’s taken just six months to double to today’s milestone of two million subscribers. There’s no denying that the web is taking centre stage in ordinary peoples’ lives.
Commenting on the findings, Alf Saggese, MD, EMEA, KANA said: “A number of the organisations we contacted were able to respond in a matter of hours indicates quite how seriously some local authorities are taking e-government. These organisations have set a great precedent, but the time has come where the high standards adopted by the few become the norm throughout the country.”
E-government cannot be regarded as a drain on limited resources. Provided they’re correctly configured, the right systems can actually free up additional budgets. Using email management and self-service technologies to replace the telephone can actually deliver huge savings, and will help enhance relations with residents at the same time,” he added.
According to analyst house Gartner Group, providing round-the-clock access to online information can be more economical than maintaining the status quo: answering a telephone call in a call centre can cost over £15 (22 ) – up to five times that of answering an email. Online, FAQ-driven self-service pages are cheaper still – costing as few pence per interaction.