The City of Revelstoke’s newly-released customer satisfaction survey shows residents are mostly positive about city services and departments, but the results clearly point out strong dissatisfaction with a few specific services.
The 2013 Customer Satisfaction Survey takes at least 30 minutes to read; here’s a synopsis of the results.
*** The entire survey results are embedded at the bottom of this story ***
The city received 943 survey responses to its fall survey, although fewer completed the survey in its entirety.
City of Revelstoke Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer said the results were better than anticipated, calling it, “outstanding community response, very, very good feedback.”
Mayor David Raven said the survey was helpful. “Some really excellent comments came through. Overall the qualitative information will give us stuff to work on in the future. Some of it is reflected in the budget processes this year,” he said. “Some of the very negative stuff is dismissed, but some of the more positive stuff is taken in heart.”
City staff say they will use the results to guide budget decisions in the coming months and years.
The three city departments with good “positive experience” rating report cards are Parks, Recreation and Culture (84 per cent), Public Works (74 per cent), and Fire Rescue Services (71 per cent).
Listen to an interview with Revelstoke Mayor David Raven about the 2013 customer service satisfaction survey:
Two departments brought home bad report cards: City Hall (including Finance and Administration) scored 62 per cent, and Community Economic Development scored 55 per cent.
The only department to flunk the “positive experience rating” was Development Services, which scored 45 per cent.
The survey asked questions about citizen satisfaction with specific services offered by each department. The majority of responses were positive, and some are described as mixed. However, residents clearly pointed out dissatisfaction with specific services. By department:
City Hall, Finance and Administration
Five out of six services offered received overall positive ratings. The ‘mayor’s office’ was the only category with more negative than positive responses. 24 per cent were satisfied with the mayor’s office, while 42 per cent were dissatisfied.
In an interview with the Times Review, city Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer said this question was the “most faulty” on the survey. It was meant to gauge approval of the staff that support the mayor, but respondents interpreted it to be an opportunity to give the thumbs up or thumbs down to Mayor David Raven – a political question, not a customer service one. Palmer said it would be removed or reworded next year.
(Editor’s note: the remaining outstanding percentages in the responses indicate neutral responses. Also, we have combined the ‘very satisfied’ and ‘very dissatisfied’ responses into just ‘satisfied’ or ‘dissatisfied.’)
Community Economic Development
The results for the small, lower-profile Community Economic Development department are one of the more surprising results of the survey. The department has steered clear of any major city hall debacles in recent years, but nevertheless earned across-the-board negative satisfaction ratings.
Only 30 per cent were satisfied with their ‘advice to business,’ while 43 per cent were dissatisfied. 37 per cent were satisfied with the department’s ability to secure funds for community projects, while 38 per cent were dissatisfied. 32 per cent were satisfied with their support for community development, while 47 per cent were dissatisfied.
Development Services, which incorporates Engineering, Planning and Building, got slammed, earning only one positive appraisal out of six services rated for satisfaction.
The city’s sign permitting service was hammered with only 11 per cent reporting satisfaction and 74 per cent saying they are dissatisfied.
The city’s ‘long-term planning’ took a drubbing; 13 per cent satisfied, 69 per cent dissatisfied.
‘Development permits’ was thrown under the bus; 14 per cent were satisfied, while 64 per cent were not.
‘Engineering services’ got tarred with a 22 per cent satisfaction rating, while 41 per cent were dissatisfied.
Only 31 per cent were satisfied with ‘building permits,’ and 47 per cent were not.
The only category to earn more satisfaction than dissatisfaction was ‘business licensing,’ which averted a dissatisfaction sweep for the department, getting a 44 per cent satisfaction rating, versus 27 per cent dissatisfied.
Palmer said the negative responses provide baseline information on the department. “It will help us to reflect on … areas to improve. It will give us a benchmark for future surveys”
Palmer also said the negative ratings supported his decision to restructure city hall to “focus on customer service.
“In many ways I think that was affirming that our reorganization was overdue,” Palmer said.
Mayor Raven also expressed hopes that the summer reorganization would yield better results: “There has been tremendous changes in that organization in the last four to five months, and it would be interesting to ask that question in a year again, [and see if] the changes we have made and are making will change the outcome of that survey.”
Fire Rescue Services; Parks, Recreation and Culture; Public Works
The city broke down these departments into 16 specific satisfaction questions; none received a negative satisfaction ratings.
The survey asked about reducing 13 different services. Respondents were in favour of reducing four. They are: tree replacement, parking enforcement, the social development coordinator and bylaw enforcement.
(The survey actually incorrectly stated the social development coordinator’s title.)
Palmer explained the services singled out in the survey for possible cuts were determined with the input of city council.
Several service reduction questions didn’t highlight a path forward for council. Respondents were split evenly on cutting downtown flower baskets, the first responder program and animal control.
Did the responses give council the go-ahead to do away with some services during the ongoing budget cycle?
Palmer said preliminary work done to prepare the draft budget didn’t point towards service cuts. “This community values the high level of service that we provide,” he said. “There wasn’t an overall consensus of actually cutting services in those areas.”
If city council is seeking a clear mandate on canine questions from the survey, they didn’t get it. Some residents have criticized the over-emphasis on dogs in the survey.
On the question of allowing properly supervised, leashed dogs in the farmers’ market, in downtown Revelstoke and at public events, a slight majority said yes to all.
*** The complete survey results are embedded below. ***