Do you put your citizens at the heart of everything?

Are you thinking about your end-users every step of the way? Amplifi look at how to fix their growing frustrations with data.

How happy are your citizens? Understanding your residents as people – not just names attached to a postcode – is key to maintaining resident satisfaction and keeping your citizens engaged in their local area.

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of your ‘why’ as an organisation – your citizens need to be at the heart of everything you do. Data issues are preventing local authorities from getting the full picture on their residents, and it’s creating problems that should be easy to avoid.

Here, we look at some of the biggest frustrations your residents experience when they engage with your council – and how a single source of data could provide the answer.

Passed from pillar to post

There is nothing quite as frustrating as being passed from pillar to post when you contact any organisation – let alone your own local authority. If residents have to repeatedly explain an issue or concern as they go from one department to another, they will become increasingly irritated and, unfortunately, it tends to be your staff who bear the brunt of their frustrations. Residents should have a simple, direct way to contact the relevant department in your council and – if data is readily available – whoever they talk to should be able pull up their details and pick up the conversation wherever the last person left it.

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Impersonal service

Building a sense of community is important for local authorities, but residents won’t feel that ‘community spirit’ if their communications with their council are impersonal, distant, and frustrating. Every department should be able to access centralised data on residents, so that no matter who is dealing with a citizen’s enquiry, they have all of the information they need: not just to deal with the issue at hand, but to communicate with the resident in a personal, considerate way.

Time-consuming processes

Thanks to the digital revolution, people today expect everything in an instant. Of course, that’s not always going to be possible for a local authority to offer on ever service – some council matters are more complicated or sensitive than others – but basic tasks should be quick and easy for residents to complete online.

Need a new wheely bin? Want to change your council tax direct debit? Submitting a complaint? Changing your personal details?

Residents shouldn’t have to call you (and sit on hold for 20 minutes) to carry out these simple actions. They also shouldn’t have to complete a lengthy form and fill in every personal detail, every time they have a problem or request. With good data management, citizens should be able to access an online portal that centralises these services, making it quick and easy to access them.

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Some of your residents will use your services for sensitive matters: for instance, social care, health and wellbeing. If vulnerable people are contacting your council, they should be able to expect the same level of care and sensitivity whether they are contacting you about their refuse collection or important social care concerns. Using data effectively means that you can give accurate background information on vulnerable citizens to employees across the business. Tightening up data in this way is also a valuable safeguard against people, or critical information relating to them, ‘falling through the cracks.’

Lack of control over their information

Effective data management hinges on having accurate, up-to-date data. When it comes to local council residents, part of that process will always rely partially on manual information input. The more complicated you make this process, the less likely citizens are to update their data in a timely manner. Hopping on to an online portal during a lunch break is very different from scheduling time to navigate a telephone menu and wait for an answer. With the right data management processes in place, you won’t only make it easier for your employees to access resident data: you’ll give your citizens greater control over their information and, hopefully, enjoy more up-to-date records as a result.

In our guide to citizen data – Citizen Data 101 – we looked in detail at some of the biggest issues impacting government agencies’ data strategies, finding that the root cause of many residents’ frustrations with their local or national services boiled down to information not being available in the right place, at the right time. Read our guide to find out how data can help you to connect with residents, improve efficiency and boost your social impact.

Download | Citizen Data 101

Amplifi Semarchy Citizen Data 101 Guide Mockup