Public sector IT managers' organisation Socitm has launched a service to help local councils improve their online services.

The new scheme, called the Customer Access Improvement Service, aims to help councils manage customer access by phone, web and face-to-face. It has been launched with the help of GovMetric, a service that measures customer satisfaction across a range of council access channels CAIS allows councils to measure their customer satisfaction and value for money, using three measurements. GovMetric is an automated method of capturing and reporting the quality of customer interactions, Socitm’s website takeup service acts as a web exit survey on user experience, and channel value benchmarking enables local authorities to identify the total cost of providing access and compare these with other local authorities.

Councils that use any of these components will have access to bi-annual reports featuring results from all the component services, workshops featuring presentations and discussion around the results from each service, and consultancy services to support making improvements.

Martin Greenwood, programme manager at Socitm Insight, said local authorities were under a great deal of pressure to improve services while cutting costs. But he added: “While this may appear to be an impossible task, our research shows there is much scope for councils to improve both the quality and efficiency of their customer enquiry handling.”

The need to improve local councils' websites came under the spotlight last month, when Socitm revealed that only one in three councils offered online transactional services, even though local authority websites had become a core delivery channel for public services.

Earlier this month, Socitm held the first meeting of the Local Government CIO Council, which reviews where local government can support, or if necessary challenge, the broader government CIO agenda.

Richard Steel, chief information officer at the London Borough of Newham, was yesterday confirmed as Socitm president. You can read his blog here.