28 June 2013

Human nature is to be excited by change – by circumstances changing for the better – or the worse.  We mightn’t like change but it captures our attention. More of the same is inherently uninteresting. May be that is why the media seems to have largely ignored the latest six monthly release of Kiwis Count survey statistics. The survey measuring New Zealanders’ satisfaction with 42 public services, was initially published as an annual point in time result. For the last four quarters, the results have been compiled on a continuing basis.

Results published this week suggest that there has been no substantial change in satisfaction levels since last quarter – which in turn is no different from the results compiled 12 months ago. The overall service quality score of 72 was the same for these other periods.  (A two point blip reported six months ago has no certain explanation.)

Minor changes included eleven insignificant improvements in service quality, and 22 insignificant decreases. Nine services were unchanged.

The service quality score was 68 in the first survey  rising in the second year to 69 and then to 72 where it seems to have stabilized. Canada’s Citizens First survey on which Kiwi’s Count is based is reported to have a similar initial progression and then become resistant to change.

A key way to improve satisfaction is to concentrate on the “drivers” of satisfaction – the short list of things that impact on satisfaction.  Providing an experience that meets users expectations has been found to be the most important influence on service satisfaction.

So what is the correlation between New Zealanders’ experience of public services (Kiwis Count), Better Public Services (with the ten results areas)  and the Effectiveness and Efficiency of agencies (Performance Improvement Framework).

The announcement yesterday of the reappointment of the State Services Commissioner for a further three years emphasised the leadership needed to deliver the Better Public Services programme. Will Kiwis Count continue now that a performance plateau seems to have been reached, or become a lesser priority like the State Services Integrity and Conduct survey?