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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.
The client's perception that the service provider's performance meets or exceeds his or her expectations.
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:
Important client satisfaction measurement elements include:
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:
- getting feedback from clients
- informing clients of the department's commitment to provide a certain level of service
- providing feedback to staff;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Yes No Step 1 Determine who the clients are Have the clients of the program been identified? ___ ___ Do these include both direct and indirect clients? ___ ___ Have clients been identified for each of the organization's products and services? ___ ___ Step 2 Determine objectives and information needs Have you determined why you want to measure client satisfaction? ___ ___ Are your objectives for measuring client satisfaction clear and has everyone involved agreed to them? ___ ___ Do they relate to the broader objectives of your program? ___ ___ Do you know how you will use client satisfaction findings? ___ ___ Have you determined what type of information you will need to achieve your objectives? ___ ___ Have you determined what you want to know about your clients' expectations? ___ ___ Have you determined what you want to know about the quality of your services? ___ ___ Have you determined what you want to learn from different ___ ___ client groups? Step 3 Develop a measurement strategy Do you know how frequently you want to measure client ___ ___ satisfaction? Do you have means in place to measure client satisfaction: · on an ongoing basis? ___ ___ · periodically? ___ ___ Have you selected the most appropriate methodologies for assessing client satisfaction in terms of: · the intended use of the results? ___ ___ · the importance of your program and services? ___ ___ · the budget available? ___ ___ Do you have different and complementary measurement ___ ___ instruments? Is a plan in place to make use of the results of your assessment of client satisfaction? ___ ___
Step 4 Gather, analyse and report information Does your approach to data collection ensure objectivity? ___ ___ Have you considered the input of performance measurement ___ ___ specialists? Are you following the approval process for public opinion ___ ___ research? Have you gathered information on all selected service ___ ___ indicators? Have you gathered information from both direct and indirect ___ ___ clients? Does satisfaction vary: · among client groups? ___ ___ · among regions? ___ ___ · over time? ___ ___ Are clients' expectations realistic given their needs? ___ ___ Are clients' expectations realistic given the organization's ability to meet those expectations? ___ ___ Do your service standards relate to clients' expectations? ___ ___ Are the clients' expectations consistent across and within ___ ___ client groups? Has the cause of the major gaps between expectations and actual quality of service been established? ___ ___ Step 5 Use and communicate client satisfaction information Have the results of the research been shared with: · your supervisors? ___ ___ · staff? ___ ___ · clients? ___ ___ Are you using the information developed? ___ ___ Have strategies been identified to close the gaps between expectations and the quality of service provided? ___ ___ Have front-line managers and staff been involved in devising program adjustments? ___ ___ Do you have clear standards for the level and quality of ___ ___ service? Is your staff involved in the development of service ___ ___ standards? Are your standards challenging and realistic? ___ ___ Does your departmental senior management feel comfortable with your standards? ___ ___ Are clients aware of your standards? ___ ___ Do you have monitoring procedures to assess performance against the service standards? ___ ___ Step 6 Review your measurement practices Are your practices cost effective? ___ ___ Has the program environment changed? ___ ___ Is it necessary to refine service standards? ___ ___ Step 7 Repeat the process Does your measurement process allow for change (do you periodically assess the need to restart the process at any ___ ___ step)?
NOTE: Not all of the above questions will apply to every client satisfaction measurement exercise. Therefore, there may be times when you can't answer some of these questions.
Arbor Inc. Customer Window Process (How to Use the Voice of Your Internal and External Customers to Achieve Total Quality;. 1991. A description of the process used when meeting with internal and external customers to determine the customers' needs and to reach agreement on improvement efforts.
Canada. Office of the Comptroller General, Evaluation and Audit Branch. Measuring Client Satisfaction: How to Design and Implement a Client Satisfaction Measurement and Monitoring System. Ottawa, 1991.
Canada. Office of the Comptroller General, Program Evaluation Branch. Measuring and Monitoring Program Performance and Service to the Public. Ottawa, 1991.
Canada. Office of the Comptroller General. Your Guide to Measuring Client Satisfaction. Ottawa, April 1992. This 12-page report offers an overview of client satisfaction measurement - how it can be carried out in an effective and economical manner, how it can help you deliver quality service to clients and how it can improve your consultation with them.
Canada. Statistics Canada. IMF Improving Service Quality: Client Feedback. Ottawa, 1992. This 20-page questionnaire finds out how clients perceive the Informatics & Methodology Field (IMF) services offered by Statistics Canada. The information collected through this questionnaire is used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the services IMF provides to its clients. The publication is addressed to all middle managers in Statistics Canada.
Canada. Treasury Board of Canada A Declaration of Quality Service. (Draft)
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Canada. Treasury Board of Canada. The Government of Canada Service Standards Initiative.
Canada. Treasury Board of Canada. A Guide to Effective Complaints Systems: A Draft Discussion. 1994.
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Ontario. Ministry of Revenue. Practical Marketing Research: Measuring Customer Satisfaction in the Government Environment. Toronto, June 1992. Outlines the growing need for market research and customer satisfaction measurements, and discusses ways to develop and use customer satisfaction questionnaires.
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