Developing the SAPS website for optimal service delivery
4 User needs
To deliver service, user needs must be identified. For the SAPS
website to meet the needs of its users it cannot only meet the
requirements for a website in general – as a police agency website
it has other specific requirements.
Where service delivery underlines the vision and mission of an
organisation, the people it serves must be assessed to determine
what services they require. Such assessment should not be once
off, but should be undertaken periodically.
Misunderstanding regarding user needs is sometimes the result
of police making assumptions about what people want. Illustrative
of this is where the police in Victoria, Canada held meetings with
the community to learn about its concerns. They thought the public
would want to discuss the increase in crime. Instead the members
of the public complained about noisy parties, vagrants and
skateboarders (cf. Jesilow & Parsons 2000:163).
When the SAPS decided to establish a website in 1997 it
requested an outside research company to conduct a survey
regarding customer expectations (Ask Africa 1997). This study is
discussed in more detail in Sonderling 2003. Although criticism of
the survey is recorded, it nonetheless was an attempt to ask the
prospective clients or users what they would want published on
such a website.
A major recommendation of the survey was that a feedback
mechanism be built into the website to facilitate interaction with
the SAPS in this way. The current website does have such a
mechanism: Website users were furnished with an Internet
communication official’s e-mail address to direct queries, hints,
concerns, etc. This mechanism has enabled the website to stay in
touch with its users.
For the purpose of the study, the queries directed to this
e-mail address for the period April 2001 to May 2002 were analysed.
A total of 608 queries were broken down into categories and
subcategories to determine what users wanted to see on the
website. For details see Sonderling 2003: 33 – 46.
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