A legacy of former Prime Minister David Cameron that history might see more kindly than some of his others is his pushing for a National Citizen Service (NCS), a government-supported scheme which allows 15 to 17 year olds to participate in community projects during their school or college vacations.
The idea: offer three to four-week experiences for young people aged 15-17, aimed at building confidence and self-belief. Participants, it is claimed, will build skills for life in and outside the workplace, while taking on challenges and contributing to their communities. The programme takes place outside of school/term time and is a part residential experience in the spring, summer or autumn, with the actual ‘experiences’ delivered on the ground by a series of charities, college consortia and Voluntary, Community, Social Enterprise (VCSE) and private sector partnerships across England.
Going on an NCS placement seems to have a positive impact on the teens who use sign up. However, critics - including the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee and most recently the Local Government Association - say the scheme has taken up too much public money so far in terms of how many youngsters it’s actually helped, only 275,000 so far.
Clearly, then, the organisation needs to find better ways of publicising what its value is and connecting to potential users - something it may have started to do via a recent project with customer engagement specialist Rant & Rave, which is based at the University of Warwick Science Park near Coventry.
The problem NCS wanted to deal with, says its Head of Customer Experience, Laura Chalmers - it didn’t have any formal system in place to get proper feedback from the young people that participate in its programme, or the parents it wants to get on side, either.
To understand more about the impact of the programme across the country, inform improvements and drive innovation, NCS is using the Salesforce-based system to gather this data, she told diginomica/government:
We didn’t have a formal system in place to collate feedback from the young people who participated in our programme. We were looking to understand more about the impact of the programme across the country, inform improvements and drive innovation, using the Voice of our Customers.
By using the Rant & Rave Platform, we hoped to gain insight on the quality of the programmes we provide and be able to react to feedback in the moment, and in a more tactical way too.
Tech-wise, the software integrates with the Service’s in-house Customer Relationship Management system, so NCS can see feedback in real-time with data that’s already stored, providing, it’s claimed, a holistic view of the user.
Capturing customer emotion
So what happened? NCS says it saw real payback from the scheme, achieving a very high Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +75. (NPS is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company's products or services to others, and is the most widely-accepted benchmark for capturing customer's overall satisfaction with a company's product or service, and the customer's loyalty to the brand.)
It’s easy to see a high-level overview of what’s being spoken about in real-time, but when necessary you can drill down into the data for some real granularity. This capability enabled us to determine a very important target audience we weren’t classifying as customers - parents.
NPS measures the willingness of customers to recommend NCS to others, so having the vast majority of participants recommend our service is a fantastic result.
In addition, the campaign also saw a 46% response rate from parent feedback requests. The project also means she and her team can segment customers based on the NPS result they gave, making it that much easier to target effective outreach campaigns. NCS also now takes the scores parents give into account within overall customer feedback as part of its revised organisational NPS KPI.
The platform also enables participants to explain what is important to them individually, in their own way, in real-time – insight that might have been missed if a traditional tick-box survey was implemented. [The software’s] unique approach to capturing customer emotion has enabled us to capture the invaluable insight and drive positive change throughout the organisation: we can understand what really matters to our young people and deliver a more consistent, high quality experience across the UK.
‘A number of service improvements’
The work also very definitely dovetails into the Service’s wider digital transformation ambitions, Chalmers told us, with this information being used to “completely overhaul” its approach.
Thought noting that she and her team are still in the process of scoping out our digital transformation strategy as a whole, she can confirm that it has been able to introduce initiatives to improve programmes for our customers through providing additional coaching in regions that receive low scores, for example, while regions now use some of their own young people-created videos during recruitment to reflect the different activities that take place in each location.
As a result, we created tailored Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategies to different customer groups, in various regions, based on the NPS result they had given. We also used the data to engage teams across the organisation by creating a Google Community that showcases a ‘Friday Fame’ slot, where each week a different person reviews a selection of customer feedback and chooses one comment to be shared with the whole Trust.
We’ve been able to set ourselves apart in the way we capture feedback from young people, their parents and our staff. As a result, we’ve changed how we define a ‘customer’ and made a number of service improvements.