Agenda item

Citizen Satisfaction Survey / Customer Services

Report of the Head of Legal and Governance


Councillor Sally Longford (Portfolio Holder for Energy, Environment and Democratic Services), Shelley Harrod (Research, Engagement and Consultation Manager) and Lucy Lee (Head of Customer Services) presented a report on the results of the Nottingham Citizen Survey 2018. The following points were discussed:


(a)  the annual Citizen Satisfaction Survey is no longer a statutory requirement upon Local Authorities, but it is a commitment of the Labour Group’s manifesto to conduct it annually. It is procured alongside the ‘Respect’ survey, at a cost of around £23,000. The appointed consultant helps to frame the questions and aims to carry out 2,000 face-to-face interviews with people in all wards, who are representative of the age, gender and ethnicity of the population of the City as a whole, and then input and quality check the data. The results are considered to be an accurate reflection of the views of the total City population, but they do not reflect opinion at a ward level as accurately. The results are shared with the relevant departments and Portfolio Holders;


(b)  the survey reflects that citizens are generally satisfied with how anti-social behaviour is tackled, how they are treated by the Council and how the Council communicates information. However, the overall level of satisfaction has decreased. There is a perception that the general cleanliness of public spaces has reduced and the amount of street begging has increased. There is also a feeling that the value for money from the Council has reduced, and that people now have less influence over decisions affecting their local area;


(c)  12% of the people surveyed were dissatisfied in the services provided by the Council. Of these, the primary demographic was white males aged 45 to 64 in employment, in the Aspley and Leen Valley and the St Ann’s, Mapperley and Dales areas. Nevertheless, the survey results showed strong performance relative to other Local Authorities that publish their results (which have experienced similar trends in their feedback recently), and in relation to the quarterly surveys undertaken independently by the Local Government Association;


(d)  levels of smoking have remained relatively static since 2015 and are above the national average, the number of people with a poor mental wellbeing score have risen slightly, 12% of respondents (down from 13% in 2017) are at an increasing or higher risk of developing alcohol-related health problems, 23% of respondents (down from 25% in 2017) use public transport to get to work (but there has been a slight increase in those who walk or cycle, at 22%), and 44% of respondents (down from 45% in 2017) visit a park or open space at least once a week;


(e)  individual citizens are able to give feedback on the specific Council services that they use, so there is a large level of satisfaction data available in various areas. Consideration is being given to how all of this data can be brought together to act as a tool for informing improvements to Council services, and steps are also being taken to capture data that is reflective of specific groups of people;


(f)  the Council’s Customer Charter sets out how the Council should treat its citizens, and how citizens should act in return. The Council website has been refreshed to a high standard and the ‘Unlocking Loxley’ project is also moving forward. Services are designed around the users’ needs and are developed following community consultation. Online access to fully digital services is now increasingly available (allowing citizens to return immediate satisfaction feedback) with automation introduced wherever appropriate, so the requirement for back-office paperwork has decreased significantly. However, the services can still be reached through a number of other means, and no measures have been put in place to discourage these means of access. Currently, only 25% of citizens use the phone to use a service if online access to it is available;


(g)  generally, it is most cost-effective to seek to answer a citizen’s question at the first point of contact, and work has shown that better handling of calls in the first instance reduces the total amount of calls received overall. Following the merger of some service contact centres, 97% of calls are picked up within 90 seconds. Customer Services works with teams to develop solutions for customer issues and monitors following feedback, to assess the impact of any new measures put into place. Work is also being done between the Council, councillors and Nottingham City Homes, to further develop customer services for citizens in Council-owned properties;


(h)  the missed collections of bins is a significant issue for citizens – particularly if bins are not collected on a repeated basis. There is also low satisfaction relating to the delivery of new or replacement bins. Work is being carried out to ensure that citizens are being given reasonable expectations in relation to this service;


(i)  ‘My Property’ is a website designed to tell citizens about services and facilities in their local area and is maintained by the Council’s Geographic Information System team, and close attention should be given to ensuring that the information up-to-date;


(j)  the ‘Have Your Say’ complaints procedure follows a two-step process. If Customer Services receives a complaint, the relevant service is asked to respond in the first instance, with support and input from Customer Services. If the citizen appeals the first response, Customer Services will address the complaint directly. If the complaint is taken further, it is be made to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) – but the Council has the lowest rate of complaints upheld by the LGO of all core cities in the country;


(k)  concerns were raised relating to the overall cost of the Citizen Satisfaction Survey, in terms of consultant fees and colleague time (given that it is no longer a statutory requirement), and the real robustness of its data in informing meaningful decision-making, due to the general nature of the data collected. Councillors felt that it would be of a much greater benefit to seek and understand citizen feedback at the level of individual wards and services. Councillors also asked whether it would be more cost-effective for the Council to carry out the survey, rather than using an external consultant;


(l)  provision should  be made to reflect the opinions gathered in terms of gender and ethnicity. People who do not speak English as a first language may need additional support and encouragement to take part in these surveys effectively, and steps should be taken to ensure that all citizens can participate in the process equally. Attention should also be paid to the gender and ethnicity of the people carrying out the survey on the doorstep, and whether this is reflective of the population being surveyed.




(1)  request further information on the analysis of the open-ended comments from the Citizen Survey (circulated with the published minutes);


(2)  request further information on the ethnicity of respondents (circulated with the published minutes);


(3)  request further information on the ethnicity of individuals conducting the survey, if available (to follow);


(4)  note the report on the results of the Nottingham Citizen Survey 2018;


(5)  recommend that, after the next Nottingham Citizen Survey (which will be carried out in the context of the revised ward boundaries), following surveys are carried out every other year, in conjunction with any other surveys that can be procured as part of the same package, as a cost-saving measure, and that any further cost-saving measures should be explored in relation to the Citizen Survey.

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