Birmingham, B29

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Council customer service

posted by pindec
Last year, Jon Bounds set up a Birmingham City Council area on the Get Satisfaction site, which provides an online space for people to discuss problems with organisations. This is particularly interesting in the context of the Council's own rather opaque complaints system (what would you call a "Leadership Line" for? I called it to find out, and got a recorded message saying "This line has now been decommissioned" ... awesome) and lack of online discussion facilities.

We are customers (apologies for terrible image quality)The Council seems to have shifted its view of its constituents to see us all as "customers", but has failed to make a corresponding shift to provide a better level of "customer service". The Council has a responsibility to be transparent about its decisions and spending in order to make us "customers" feel like we're getting value for money and that our views are being heard. At the moment, it's far too difficult to try and extract that information from their clumsily cluttered website (they've turned their search off until they launch a new site, but no date is given, and you only get the warning on the front page. Super helpful). This is particularly mysterious after they won an e-government award in 2007 for simplifying citizen's access to information, including "Customer First – ensuring customers receive basic, fast and accurate services with a single, friendly and professional contact point for all queries". Where is it? Oh, via google, there it is - they don't seem to have implemented it, and don't give a date for its launch. *sigh*.

Our own Michael Grimes has set up a Selly Oak ward area within the Get Satisfaction / Birmingham City Council area, for everyone to discuss/comment about local issues there - please do add your concerns, questions etc.. I've posted an idea about the Council lending out speed cameras to people who want to log/display the speeds of motorists in their area (a personal topic - I keep nearly getting squished on the Pershore Road).

However, in the context of increasing surveillance across Birmingham, it would be interesting to get some other ideas to resolve the problem: are more cameras (albeit mobile non-fining ones) really a good solution? You might also want to sign the 20 MPH e-petition (a surprisingly 21st Century initiative from BCC).

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