By: Bo McCall, Performance Analyst, Office of the City Manager
The City’s data frequently shows that a citizen’s direct experience with a city service evokes a higher level of satisfaction compared to citizen satisfaction survey scores for the same city service. A perception gap often exists regarding the quality of a city service between users and non-users of that service.
This Chartland post further explores this perception gap by utilizing the most recent results from two different surveys that measure satisfaction with the City of Kansas City, Missouri’s animal control services: the citywide citizen satisfaction survey and the 311 Call Center follow-up survey.
When a 311 service request is closed, Kansas City’s 311 Call Center sends out a follow-up survey to the customer in order to gather their feedback. The 311 customer satisfaction survey is delivered by letter or email within 24-48 hours of the service request closure. A customer that does not provide their contact info to 311 can also complete the survey online with their service request number.
The results from the 311 Call Center follow-up survey demonstrate that KC residents who have reported animal control issues, such as injured wildlife, stray dogs, animal abuse/neglect, etc., are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experiences with animal control services.
Customer satisfaction with animal control services has trended at or above the stated target goal of 85% for most of 2016. Satisfaction hit a high of 93% in September 2016. This was the highest customer satisfaction rating for animal control services in over seven years.
Further analysis of 311 call data illustrates one reason why customer satisfaction with animal control services may be so high. The median response time of KC’s animal control officers for 311 complaints is consistently less than the stated goal of responding to calls within 15 minutes.
However, the results from the quarterly citywide citizen satisfaction survey that can be found on the KCStat dashboard portray noticeably lower levels of satisfaction with animal control services.
The most recent citywide citizen satisfaction survey results, as shown above, find that 39% of citizens were satisfied with customer services provided by animal control officers. This is almost a 50 percent difference in the levels of satisfaction between the citywide survey results and the 311 survey results that measure the same city service!
So how can the percentage of citizens satisfied with animal control services vary so significantly between the two surveys? Neutral might be the culprit.
The citywide survey asks survey respondents to rate their satisfaction of city services by selecting one of six answers: Very Satisfied, Satisfied, Neutral, Dissatisfied, Very Dissatisfied, or Don’t Know.
Dissatisfaction with animal control’s customer services on the citywide satisfaction survey was relatively low at 16%, but close to 45% of the survey’s respondents reported their perception of animal control services to be neutral.
A neutral response regarding satisfaction often indicates that respondents don’t have strong feelings about a given topic area. Given the high percentage of neutral responses, the citywide satisfaction survey results suggest that many Kansas City residents who answered the citywide survey may not have ever interacted with animal control services or may not be aware of the services that animal control offers.
On the other hand, citizens who reported high levels of satisfaction with animal control services on the 311 Call Center follow-up survey have experienced these services firsthand. Neutral is not an option on the 311 customer satisfaction survey since the survey is only sent to respondents who have directly utilized the service.
How should the City address this conundrum regarding the perception gap of quality between residents that have and haven’t used a city service? The City first looks at the feedback from customers to understand any service gaps that may exist in order to understand the opportunities for improvement in a service area. When customer feedback generally shows satisfaction with a service area, like in the case of animal control, a next step might be to develop communication tools for a broader group of citizens in order to convey understanding about this service area.
The City’s Communications Office has worked with its public safety professionals over the last year to develop a series of videos profiling the City’s animal control officers and the work that they do. The video series is available on the City’s YouTube channel. The City’s TV Channel (Channel 2, or KCCG) broadcasts these videos and shares them via social media to reach a broad array of citizens. These videos allow any citizen to get a sense of animal control’s work, even if they have not personally interacted with that particular city service.
Early indications suggest that the videos may be making a difference – citizen satisfaction with enforcement of the animal code is up 3.6% according to the fiscal year 2016-2017 mid-year results.