A key challenge for government service delivery managers will be adapting to the new mantra of “doing more and better with less.” The drive to contain costs within the public sector will likely encourage co-location of services across jurisdictions, integration, streamlining and the provision of more self-service options.
Citizens First 6 (CF6), the latest in the series of surveys undertaken by the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service on behalf of 14 sponsoring jurisdictions representing municipal, regional, provincial, territorial and federal levels of government, gives service managers information on the experience of clients who have interacted with government through a range of channels.
The first Citizens First study, launched in 1998, gained an understanding of how citizens experience government services. This knowledge enabled providers to improve service based on empirical evidence. In the first study, citizens across Canada were asked what they thought about the delivery of public services, what expectations they held, and what they saw as priorities for improvement. This formed the baseline to measure progress.
Citizen satisfaction with public services has increased steadily since this research began 15 years ago. Canada has become a model in this regard, and other countries look to us for guidance on their own service improvement efforts.
Citizen First 6 results
CF6 underwent some changes to enhance its value to subscribers. Two surveys were undertaken. The first maintained the tracking component which allows jurisdictions to analyze changes in service performance metrics over time. A second survey explored new and emerging issues in citizen satisfaction and service delivery. The largest number of citizens to date responded to the first CF6 survey (9,857), administered through mail and online. Another 1,689 citizens responded online and by telephone to the second survey covering emerging issues.
The report reveals useful insights:
- Scores for many government services have improved by at least five points over CF5 results, and sometimes higher. Generally, satisfaction scores are higher for transactional services and lower for services such as applying for or receiving a social entitlement. CF6 has closely examined the drivers of satisfaction by the nature of the interaction or type of service;
- Website use as a key method of contact for citizens has increased dramatically. CF6 shows that respondents to the survey used the online channel or a government website at some point in the course of their service interaction;
- Results show that the web is often the first point of contact for many citizens, but relatively few are able or willing to complete a service interaction online. The web’s “efficiency score” in this respect, relative to services delivered in person, is quite low. There’s work to be done in determining how to make this channel more efficient;
- The in-person and telephone channels continue to be popular and, on average, respondents used two channels to obtain the service sought. Satisfaction scores are significantly lower for those using three or more channels (59/100) compared to those who used only one channel (71/100). Findings show that telephone and the web, used in some combination, are most problematic for citizens;
- While less than one percent of citizens currently use digital or social media like text messaging, Facebook, online payment systems or mobile applications to connect with government, expectations are high on what they should be able to do via these channels. Citizens want access to services anytime and anywhere. They want choice, flexibility and convenience. Much work is required to explore these channels and how they might best be accessed and used by citizens; and
- Importantly, some citizens are unaware of how to access a particular service. While relatively few (16% overall) fall into this category, for those who do, the impact on service satisfaction is dramatic. Satisfaction scores fall from 71/100 for those who know how to get the service to 40/100 for those who thought they knew, but didn’t, and 52/100 for those who were unaware of how to access the service.
For valuable insights and actionable recommendations from CF6, visit www.iccs-isac.org to purchase the complete report and bulletin. Check for webinars focusing on the results of the study.
Citizens say …
Under 10 minutes: Is a reasonable amount of time to spend online finding the information they need on a government website
3-5 web pages: Is the maximum they should have to look at to find what they need
Within 4 hours: Is the time within which a response should be received if a text message is sent to a government agency, department or official
Same day: Is an acceptable amount of time to wait for a call back after leaving a message on a government automated voice response system
Every 2nd day: Is the frequency with which government blogs, Facebook pages and Youtube should be refreshed, updated, checked for accuracy and out of date content removed
Instantaneous confirmation: When a payment is made online for a government service
More flexible hours of operation: For government offices and service centres