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ARCHIVED - Quality Services - Guide II - Measuring Client Satisfaction

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A critical component of quality service is client satisfaction measurement. The following proposes strategic principles and ongoing processes for measuring client satisfaction.


Client satisfaction

The client's perception that the service provider's performance meets or exceeds his or her expectations.

Client satisfaction measurement

The assessment of client expectations and of the actual and perceived quality of service.


The goal of client satisfaction measurement is to determine the level of client satisfaction with government services and the delivery of those services.


Measuring client satisfaction involves creating the proper environment for:

  • conducting open, honest, transparent and ongoing consultations with clients;
  • involving employees (as clients and providers) in the entire process; and
  • remeasuring client satisfaction regularly to determine trends and the effectiveness of improvements that have been implemented.

Important client satisfaction measurement elements include:

  • knowing what clients want;
  • understanding client expectations;
  • designing services to meet clients' needs;
  • setting service standards;
  • setting performance measurement indicators;
  • empowering staff to meet clients' needs; and
  • communicating service and quality standards to clients.


A key component of a quality service culture is client satisfaction measurement. Gaps that may exist between performance and client needs and expectations can be identified by:

  • improving the quality and effectiveness of government services;
  • determining service relevance and importance;
  • setting service standards by

- getting feedback from clients

- informing clients of the department's commitment to provide a certain level of service

- providing feedback to staff;

  • identifying opportunities for new services and for service adjustment, which could mean continuing, discontinuing, realigning or transferring services; and
  • optimizing resource allocation and use to balance client expectations with departmental mandates and available resources (people, money and time).

Success Factors

Successful client satisfaction measurement incorporates the following principles:


You should understand which services being delivered are important to the clients and to the government.


Strategic support at the senior executive level as well as at all levels of the organization is necessary.


Make sure that the element measured relates to specific information needs, that it is measurable and that the information is meaningful.


Complex approaches are expensive and need a high level of expertise. Simple approaches can elicit practical and useful information.


By using different measurement instruments, you can offset the limitations of each approach. This strategy also produces multiple lines of evidence, thus supporting more solid conclusions.

Cost effectiveness

Only essential information should be gathered. Efficiency and economy should be key criteria when deciding how to gather information. Sampling techniques and readily available data should be used to the greatest extent possible.


The measurement instruments should be credible, accurate, valid, sensitive to change in clients' attitudes and consistent over time.


It is essential to measure client satisfaction on an ongoing basis. Such regularity enables organizations to keep up to date with the environmental changes taking place and to assess the impact of changes implemented to improve client satisfaction.


You should develop improvement strategies based on measurement results.

Note: Low complaint rates may not necessarily mean client satisfaction. Some dissatisfied clients may not complain. They may not know how, where or to whom to complain, or their location may make it difficult for them to complain. Some clients may exact "revenge" for poor service by spreading negative word of mouth instead of providing feedback to help organizations improve.

Performance Indicators

At one end of the spectrum, there are indicators to measure the client satisfaction process itself, while at the other end, there are indicators to measure actual client satisfaction.

Indicators for the measurement process

  • client response trends
  • number of client surveys undertaken
  • number of measurement tools used
  • consistency of findings
  • action taken as a result of the survey
  • amount of client feedback
  • change in staff awareness of client needs, change in staff commitment and initiative with respect to quality service
  • resources realigned in response to client feedback
  • findings and resulting measures reported to senior management and to the client in a timely manner

Indicators of client satisfaction

Many different indicators can be used to measure client satisfaction. The choice of indicators will vary with the service being provided. The following are some common performance indicators.


  • accessibility
  • telephone access
  • professional appearance
  • hours of service
  • signage
  • use of technology


  • clarity
  • availability
  • use of plain language


  • courtesy
  • helpfulness
  • competence
  • empathy
  • clarity
  • fairness
  • assurance
  • responsiveness

Services received

  • timeliness
  • value
  • appropriateness
  • adequacy
  • quality


  • value for money
  • satisfaction
  • likelihood of recommending the service or revising it
  • reliability

Strategic Considerations

Various departments have already done much client satisfaction measurement work. The federal Public Service as a whole is not beginning a new journey to measure client satisfaction.

The success of client satisfaction measurement depends upon the direct and active support of senior management, the training and engagement of staff, and the continual link between client satisfaction measurement and program delivery.

Strategic considerations should include the following:

Executive "buy-in" and leadership

  • Client satisfaction measurement will succeed only if clients and staff are both convinced of the active support of departmental leaders.
  • Departmental leadership must use client satisfaction measurement to drive change and improvement in service delivery.


  • Communication must be open, honest and transparent.
  • Employees should be involved early in the design process and be cognizant of both goals and end results.
  • Everyone involved in the process should respect proprietary information.

Education of senior management, employees and clients

  • Early in the process, talk to others who have experience in measuring client satisfaction, research available literature, consult with internal and external experts, and refer to case studies.
  • Many training courses on measuring client satisfaction are available. These may help employees design client satisfaction measurement tools.
  • The shift to a client-driven organization requires a change in mindset. For instance, when answering a telephone call where the caller has dialled an incorrect number, rather than simply saying that there is no one there by that name, a client-focused employee would help the caller find the correct number, and perhaps even transfer the call.
  • Shape service expectation boundaries and focus measurement on service delivery.

Government direction

  • While planning the measurement process, determine whether any changes in government and departmental direction could affect your initiative. Ensure that your plan accounts for contingencies, so that financial and/or human resources are used effectively and efficiently.


  • Sufficient resources - financial, human and time - must be allocated.

Implementation Process

The following seven steps offer a practical approach to measuring client satisfaction:

Step 1: Determine who the clients are.

Step 2: Determine the objectives for measuring client satisfaction and define the related information needs.

Step 3: Develop a measurement strategy.

Step 4: Gather, analyse and report information.

Step 5: Use and communicate client satisfaction information.

Step 6: Review the measurement practices.

Step 7: Repeat the process.

A handy checklist at the end of this guide will help you with this process.


Measuring and monitoring client satisfaction is not an end in itself. It is a means to improve service to the public and program performance in general. Client satisfaction measurement provides invaluable information for responsive and effective client consultation.

A comprehensive approach to measuring client satisfaction and using satisfaction assessments can bring considerable benefits to the organization if such an approach is seen, as it should be, as a management tool and not as a way to judge individuals' performance. If properly used, it can help you develop a client orientation throughout your organization.