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You’ve spoken, we’ve listened: reflecting on our 2019 Customer Satisfaction Survey

12 July 2019

Results of our Council’s latest customer satisfaction survey are out, and we are pleased to report our communities feel they get a fair hearing from our Council when it comes to the things that matter to them.

The independent survey, conducted by the National Research Bureau (NRB), measures the ‘satisfaction’ of our ratepayers and communities on the services and facilities we deliver, and our Council's direction overall.

Our Mayor Sandra Goudie says the survey is an important tool that helps our Council measure its performance.

Mayor Sandra notes the survey points to some good overall trends, with satisfaction scores for the majority of our Council services and facilities trending upwards generally from our last survey in 2015. Satisfaction scores for our water and wastewater services were particularly encouraging, having increased markedly from four years ago.

"The survey reflects that, on the whole, our customers are happy with the direction we're taking, and understand that our focus has been on core infrastructure spending for things like stormwater and wastewater upgrades and improving our drinking water standards," Mayor Sandra says.

Our Council's focus on core services and our significant investment in infrastructure projects such as upgrades to  drinking water supplies and improvements to Council roads was outlined in our recently adopted Annual Plan 2019/2020, which you can find out more about here.

"The feedback also showed a more positive trend in terms of accessibility to elected members and getting a fair hearing," Mayor Sandra says. "It’s fantastic that the public know they can come to us, and that we try to resolve as many issues as we can in our area of influence."

In many areas where the survey shows a decline in satisfaction, such as stormwater services, this can be attributed to an event or an issue that our Council is already aware of and is managing, Mayor Sandra says.

Satisfaction with our stormwater service dropped to 59% this year, from 76% in 2015. The district has experienced several significant storm events over the previous years, which may be a contributing factor to people’s awareness of stormwater issues.

Whangamata is an example of an area that has been significantly affected by storm events in recent years and a process is underway to develop a stormwater management master plan for this area.

On a positive note, satisfaction with water supply is up at 91% in 2019 compared to 68% in 2015 – a level that’s well above the national average of 75%.

We had a similar increase with satisfaction for our sewerage services, increasing to 97% in 2019 from 73% in 2015 - also well above the national average of 80%.

“Overall, our survey shows our Council is performing well in comparison to our peers and in relation to the national results,” Mayor Sandra says. “Thanks to those who took the time to share their feedback with us."

A snapshot of results is provided below and you can read the summary of the report, provided to Council this week here.

Results snapshot

Contact with Council and representation

  • Overall, respondents have a high degree of comfort contacting Council members (90.6%).

A fair and open-minded hearing

  • Since 2010, there's been a positive trend from respondents on whether our Mayor and Councillors give a fair and open-minded hearing to issues, problems and viewpoints raised by residents and non-residents.
  • The volume of people answering ‘don’t know’ in terms of the Mayor and Councillors giving them a fair and open-minded hearing is declining, signalling people have greater knowledge of interactions with our elected members.

Satisfaction with services and facilities

  • Since our last survey, satisfaction has decreased for footpaths, roads, stormwater, parks and reserves and public conveniences.
  • The same or similar levels of satisfaction were reported for harbours and cemeteries, while satisfaction has improved for halls, water and sewerage.
  • The 2019 survey results for rubbish show a decrease in satisfaction from 84% in 2015 to 77% in 2019. The change could be linked to some recent changes to our Kerbside collection service, which include not collecting blue Council rubbish bags hung on trees. You can read more about our Kerbside collection policy here.
  • As mentioned earlier, satisfaction of respondents who are connected to Council’s water supply and sewage services has increased markedly. Satisfaction with water supply is up at 91 % in 2019 compared to 68% in 2015 and well above the national average of 75%. (See chart above).
  • Satisfaction with sewerage services rose to 97% from 73% - also well above the national average of 80%.

Rates and information

  • Satisfaction with the way rates are spent on services and facilities has dropped off 1% to 75% but is still showing consistent positive growth in satisfaction with rates expenditure. 
  • Satisfaction with the way rates are spent is above the national average of 69%.

Satisfaction with involvement in council decision making

  • Those in the satisfied/very satisfied category have historically been between 20-50% and this trend has continued with 42%. This is comparable to the national average of 44%.
  • A significant portion of respondents, 31%, answered they are neither satisfied or dissatisfied – consistent with past trends and potentially indicating a level of disengagement with decision making from some respondents.

About our 2019 Customer Satisfaction Survey

We conduct the Customer Satisfaction Survey in advance of our Long Term Plan development phase, which is approximately every three years.

External research agency NRB conducts the survey, and the results enable us to compare our performance with local authorities across New Zealand.

This year’s survey was conducted during May over a sample group of approximately 400 respondents. Of this group, 202 were resident ratepayers while 198 were non-resident ratepayers. The sample contained 197 male respondents and 203 female respondents. Of these 11% were aged 18-44, 32% 45-64 years with the biggest response rate of 56% from people aged 65+.

The previous survey was conducted in October 2015. Overall results of that showed improvements for the majority of targeted services our council provides with positive trends evident across most other services.