J. Michael Miltenberger: Citizens First Survey Results

Jun 2 2015

Mr. Speaker, every budget session, I have provided this House with an update on the progress being made under the Service Innovation Strategy.  Today, I want to tell you about a tool we have to measure how satisfied Northern residents are with government service delivery.

The national “Citizens First” survey measures how satisfied Northwest Territories residents are with the Government of the Northwest Territories services they receive over the phone, in person and online. Since the survey began in 1998, it has gained international attention and recognition and remains the “gold-standard” in research on public sector service delivery.    

The GNWT participated, for the first time, in 2014, in “Citizens First 7” – the seventh in this series of studies.

These surveys explore various aspects of a changing service environment, tracking perceptions of service quality and performance for a wide range of services offered by municipal, provincial/territorial and federal governments.

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, the Yukon and Quebec have all participated in the survey. A combined telephone and mail/mail-to-online approach was used. Where appropriate, comparisons are provided to the overall national results and “Best Provincial/Territorial” results which represent the highest score by participating individual province or territory. Four hundred and three people were surveyed in the NWT.

The GNWT participated not only to establish a baseline for measuring progress, but also to understand more about what our residents expect from government, and what makes for the most satisfying service experience regardless of what “channel” Northerners access government services.   The term “channel” refers to how you access the service.  It can be online, in person, or on the telephone.

This first survey provided us with some very interesting information.  The Office of the Chief Information Officer has been making presentations and sharing the results of the report and recommendations for improvement with all of the government departments.

What did we find out?

  • The NWT’s service reputation score is the highest in Canada with a score of 66. The NWT’s score is higher than the national average and has the highest score of the participating provinces and territories. Your reputation score is indicative of the public perception of your services.  I hope this is not just beginner’s luck!
  • We also found out that NWT residents felt this government was responsive to the needs of a diverse population – whether it be visible minorities or people with a disability.
  • The NWT’s client satisfaction score – where NWT residents are asked to rate a recent experience with a territorial government service – saw the GNWT receiving scores on par with the highest score among the eight provinces/territories participating in the survey.

We will not let those good scores go to our heads.  We recognize there is room for improvement.  An article in May 8th ‘s Yellowknifer, entitled “Calls to the GNWT go to the Birds,” Mr. Walt Humphries points out how both he and Ms. Cece McCauley have found it difficult to find the information they needed from the GNWT.

Similar to the issues of the two Northern News Services columnists, the survey revealed the “findability” of information on our websites requires improvement as does our telephone wait times.  We also found out that we have challenges in solving problems, correcting errors and dealing with complaints, especially when a resident has to use more than two channels to solve their problem, or tell their story to multiple people.

In addition to providing some very valuable baseline information, the survey also summarized some priorities for improving services – like “customer service”.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer will offer service training for employees in June for Frontline Service Providers and in October for Certified Service Managers.   The training will help employees and their managers become accredited in service delivery. It also aligns with the Service Innovation Strategy objective to improve government service delivery, and as departments look at putting more services online, they can look to these survey results for baseline information on where to focus their efforts.

This was just a brief overview of the Citizen First survey. I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety.  It can be found on the Department of Finance website and I will table the survey results later today at the appropriate time.

We are pleased that we received positive results from our first survey and good feedback from residents about where we can improve.  I want to thank all the residents who took part in the survey, because your feedback is very important to us.  I also want to encourage everyone to take part in the next survey, if you are asked, because we are listening!  Finally, I want to take the time to commend all of our public servants on the front line, and their managers, for always keeping our “Citizens First” in mind, every day.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.