How open consumer feedback improves governance

edward.irby Dec 16, 2016
Blog
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On 10th November, Community Integrity Building (CIB) Programme Manager Edward Irby travelled to Oslo to give a presentation to Integrity Action partners at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). Integrity Action and NORAD have a longstanding relationship, working together since 2005 to improve governance and services for citizens.

The presentation focused on how Integrity Action is employing lessons learnt from the open consumer feedback revolution. We are using this information to improve governance in the countries where we have been working with NORAD’s support.  

At Integrity Action we suggest that it is important to distinguish between three types of feedback. We call it a Feedback Triangle

  • Type A is principal-led and owned (e.g. like a Prime Minister’s office, Governor, Mayor); 
  • Type B is manager-led and owned (e.g. by someone with direct responsibility for a project or service); and 
  • Type C is citizen led and owned (i.e. by users, beneficiaries or consumers) 

In commerce there has been a revolution in consumer behaviour over the last decade. Whole new markets have been created because of innovations in Type C consumer feedback:

  • Amazon reviews, Tripadvisor, and Yelp are all examples of Type C feedback systems. 
  • A hotel 5* rating is an example of Type A. 
  • The manager of a hotel handing out customer feedback forms is an example of Type B. 
  • Citizens and consumers want all three types of feedback and tend to trust products and services that receive ratings from multiple sources, including Type C feedback. 

Type C is what we call the “disruptor” because it allows beneficiaries to provide feedback on anyone autonomously. Although a type C system reinforces A + B, type C systems are more trusted because they are autonomous and independent from the owner/hotel/restaurant etc.

Open consumer feedback systems are built around 3 pillars:

  1. Autonomy – the user is in control of the feedback they provide.
  2. Transparency – it is available online for everyone to see – when you provide feedback at a hotel after your stay, other people do not see what you have written
  3. Positive feedback loops – feedback loops for rewarding good behaviour/services – being autonomous from the owner creates space for positive and negative feedback loops for rewarding/punishing good and bad services

Integrity Action suggests that there can be a similar revolution in governance effectiveness through Type C systems, both in industrialised and emerging countries. A combination of all three systems can spur innovation, increase effectiveness and build trust.

Through our online tool DevelopmentCheck.org we have been using the lessons from the open consumer feedback revolution to improve governance. DevelopmentCheck.org allows citizens to provide feedback on services in their communities. This ensures that a positive feedback loop is created to reward good behaviour from contractors, municipalities and service providers. It facilitates awareness raising about problems that may arise in service delivery, and an evidence base which enables users to act on and resolve identified problems. Further, it enables users to use their findings to do something about a problem they have discovered.

DevelopmentCheck.org has been described as “TripAdvisor for development”. Today there are over 545 projects which have been published onto DevelopmentCheck.org, valued at USD $695 million, where citizen feedback is being used to provide oversight of the project implementation process.

If you would like to find out more, please contact us admin@integrityaction.org