Don’t forget who you are working for

Keeping CD sales high

I recently read an article about CD sales in 2011 which, whilst obviously praising Adele for her near domination of the music market, shared the fascinating insight that roughly three quarters of all music sales in 2011 (82.2 million to 26.6 million) were made on CDs and not from online music stores.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend who works in the world of internet television. Despite me arguing that I wanted some form of pay per view TV (mainly because I don’t have Sky but would like to buy the odd football match to watch) he pointed out that the great majority of the population can’t think of anything worse and much prefer the subscription model.

Indeed, I believe this was the motivation for Lovefilm to shift across to that model for their online service.

Why do I mention this? Well, in both cases the assumptions I made, as a fairly IT literate individual was that a) people would share my belief that digital is better and that b) people’s spending habits would reflect this.

In fact I was wrong.

Normal subscription TV dominates the ‘added value’ pay per view TV market and despite my mis-perceptions the purchase of good old fashioned CDs still dominates the music market, at least for now.

So what can this tell us about the Local Government world in which we work?

Firstly, just because mobile apps are really funky and twitter is growing and lots of people like to pay bills using the internet this does not mean that everyone wants to do things that way. A GP was on the radio a few weeks ago commenting that three quarters of the visits he received at his surgery were from about 10% of his client list. I would not be surprised if this was similar for a local authority and I would not be surprised if both the GP and the council found that the people most likely to contact them (the 10%) were not the people with the i-phones and internet savvy habits.

Secondly, we need to really understand our customers (or whatever we choose to call them) and what they actually want. Sometimes we are tempted to follow the logic of the Field of Dreams and believe that if we build it the people will come. Maybe they will but if we take the time to work out what they want and then build that surely we stand a much better chance. Often, the answers we will receive will not be the ones we want to hear.

I realise that writing something like this on this blog will make me seem a little luddite-ish. My co-writer would doubtless have me down as one of the guys who needs to innovate in 2012. However, it does cut both ways; much as an understanding of the people we work for would have me making sure CDs are still available for 75% of the people I’d also be making damn sure I was providing the right service for the other 25%.

My point is that life is complex and getting blinded by new technology simply because it is the future can lead us to forget the present and the people we are meant to be working for.

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at:

Explore posts in the same categories: The future of Local Govt

Tags: , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

7 Comments on “Don’t forget who you are working for”

  1. Daz Wright Says:


    Spot on, and something that needs to be said. Also recognising that whilst the issue is pertinant to web sites, people who use Apps are a still smaller sub set.

    We need to use digital channels to communicate with those people who don”t access services because it is cost effective and they need to be aware of how their money is spent. An effective digital engagement platform should free up resources to help us really engage with those heavy service users.

    There is no single solution

  2. […] Don’t forget who you are working for « We Love Local Governmentin both cases the assumptions I made, as a fairly IT literate individual was that a) people would share my belief that digital is better and that b) people’s spending habits would reflect this. In fact I was wrong. […]

  3. Localgov Says:

    Interesting point, and not one I entirely disagree with. However, there are a few points to consider. If you don’t look at total sales and instead look at trends over time, while CD sales may make up a larger total percentage currently this market share is going down and digital download’s share is going up. Culture change like this takes time, but is inexorable. Some will always prefer the physical feel of CDs as some insist that vinyl is superior to all. Not met anyone who prefers cassettes though…

    There’s also the argument of ‘building a faster horse’, in that people may not be using many online services provided by the council because they either don’t exist yet or aren’t up to anywhere near the standards that their private sector counterparts are. While online solutions look substandard or overly complicated, people usually stick to tried and trusted methods, however archaic.

    All that being said, we can’t forget about the 10% who either can’t or won’t go online and cut them off. The more of the remaining 90% we can encourage to go digital by default, the more our remaining and freed up resources can be better targeted on the rest.

    Of course, that assumes those savings aren’t simply written off or taken as efficiencies…

  4. kriswith Says:

    There is a definite shift to the digital in a number of markets but this depends on whether to digital is being seen as just a different way of accessing the same services or if can offer more value.

    Providing more services online is a no-brainer given the cost benefits and given a substantial customer demand to pay bills or book tickets in that way. Some of our customers will never choose to access us this way and that is fine – we have the call centre, the one stop shops, the libraries, the children’s centres, the day centres, the direct contact with staff.

    The other advantage with the digital is the access to information and converstations by groups who otherwise don’t bother getting in touch. The hardest to reach groups in any consultation are not those traditionally seen as excluded but those in their 20s and 30s without children, the very groups who are most likely to be found online.

    Offering a menu of ways to access services and to get involved is the best way to open local government up.

  5. monchberter Says:

    Strangely enough, Fujitsu and Age UK are already on the case regarding the move to internet based services, particularly around older people. They released a report last July on older people’s approach to internet based local government services and found that while most counsellors assumed that internet based services were easy to use, most older people still would want to use telephone services or visit their council directly and that council’s need to be aware that this isn’t a demand that is going to suddenly disappear.

  6. […] can be identified ‘as those who do not have ready access to the Internet.’ As said in a recent We Love Local Gov blog post, we mustn’t forget this public in the general move to embrace social […]

  7. Tone Says:

    Digital availability and take-up aren’t just age-related either. There are members of the public who are rural dwellers, poor or in areas with poor connections.

    I was at a conference in London late last year when one speaker said something along the lines of ‘everyone has a mobile phone these days’ and also by implication that they could enjoy mobile connection to the internet.

    He was quickly pulled up by a member of the audience from outside the M25 who pointed out that, despite him living in a village just outside BT’s main UK research centre in Suffolk, he struggle on several levels with mobile connections and even fixed-line internet speeds.

    I accept that connectivity and speeds in provincial UK are improving, but not that quickly and often suppliers still charge the same for internet services whether the customer’s supply is fast or slow!

    On a positive note, where supply of connectivity has reached an acceptable level, on-line services can be of great benefit to rural dwellers, especially when rural transport is poor and ‘local’ services are closing down or being rationalised into the larger urban areas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: