What is Customer Insight?
In 2008, the LGA wrote a paper (led on by what is now the Local Government Improvement and Development body) on Customer Insight, defining it as follows:
‘Customer Insight’ is knowledge derived from the variety of qualitative and quantitative data and information that local authorities collect about their area. Sources of insight include demographic data, surveys, feedback from focus groups and consultation exercises, service usage data, and ‘complaints, compliments and comments’.
‘Insight’ can be sought from a vast array of different methods, some simple, some highly complex. Some sources of insight data are freely available – for example Census information, business locations and house prices – whilst others are not.
As a commercial example, a supermarket might use customer insight data derived from loyalty card use to understand purchase behaviour, and then use this to target promotions and offers accordingly.
For a local authority, this type of insight allows us to better understand the people living in our area, and how to meet their needs, communicate effectively, and provide effective and suitable services to the community. By cross-comparing the use of services, we can identify what services are likely to be of use in the future. This can help us target services, and most importantly help us decide how to target our funding each year.
How do we use it?
There are a number of bespoke social classification tools which can be used to assist our understanding of our communities. The “Output Area Classifications” (OAC) is a free geodemographic tool commissioned by the ONS, providing socio-demographic data for local neighbourhood at an output area level (this is a geographic area consisting of roughly 125 households). You can read more on the OAC, how we use it (including interactive maps), and find out where to access the raw data itself, on the OAC subpage (accessed on the left of this page).
Commercial classification tools are also available – the most popular two being MOSAIC, developed by Experian, and Acorn, developed by CACI. They are more commercial in nature – hence more regularly used by businesses. They work in a similar fashion to the OAC, but make use of additional insight resources such as ones around consumer behaviour.
Cambridgeshire County Council Research Group currently have a license to use Acorn data – which segments our population in more detail than the OAC does. We are using this data to examine the common behaviours of people using our services – and those who are eligible for services but do not use them. This will then be used to help redesign services at a time where cost savings are still being pushed, in ways where we can save money but not reduce provision.
Other Data Visualisations
The 2011 OAC interactive atlas can be viewed here.
Cambridgeshire Research Group have created four interactive maps offering customer insight that make use of OAC. Due to the age of the data, these are based on the 2001 OAC data.:
- Cambridgeshire Atlas : Output Area Classification displays the supergroups and group profiles across the county, this can be filtered to a district and ward level.
- Cambridgeshire Atlas : Living Costs and Food Survey shows the expenditure habits of different OAC groups in the county.
- Cambridgeshire Atlas : Ward Profiles displays a wide range of socio-economic and demographic data for all wards in the county. You can view the percentage of each OAC supergroup in a ward.
- Cambridgeshire Atlas : Place Survey 2008 shows the Place Survey results at a ward level across the county. OAC can be overlaid onto the map for greater insight.