Friday, March 29, 2013

Post panning customer satisfaction survey...where is it?

The Local Government Ombudsman was rightly panned following a 2012 Department of Communicates and Local Government Select Committee investigation into their activities.

Since then we have been waiting for the Local Government Ombudsman to undertake a quantitative customer satisfaction survey. The reason why this event is going to be so interesting can be derived from historical customer satisfaction surveys.

Between 1999 and 2012 the Local Government Ombudsman has admitted conducting the following surveys. (There was one in 1995 but we will come to that later.)

Link to LGO current published surveys

Customer satisfaction 1999, Public awareness 2003, Customer satisfaction 2005, Customer satisfaction 2007, Customer satisfaction 2010, Adult social care complaints 2011, Communications research 2011, Staff survey 2012. Only four have to do with customer satisfaction, 1999, 2005, 2007 and 2010.

Out of these only 1999 and 2007 were quantitative in nature whilst the 2005 and 2010 were qualitative in nature. The use of a qualitative rather than quantitative surveys in 2005 was an attempt to mask the fact that no significant improvement had been achieved since their 1999 survey.

The 2007 survey is interesting in that even though the LGO excluded and even greater number of dissatisfied complainants from this survey than they did in 1999 no significant improvements had been achieved. If the LGO hadn't manipulated the results of both the 1999 and 2007 surveys they would have shown a marked and ongoing reduction in customer satisfaction since the 1995 survey. Another interesting point about the 1995 survey is that it was the last one conducted before Ex council staff were recruited as Local Government Ombudsmen.

Since then the LGO have manipulated [1 below] every quantitative customer satisfaction survey they have ever conducted and inter dispersed them with qualitative surveys to make comparison between two adjacent surveys even more difficult.

So the question is, how will the LGO mask the ever growing dissatisfaction with their service, since 1995 when they started to recruit ex council staff as LGO?

They can't put off another quantitative survey for ever and if they try to exclude any dissatisfied complaints as they increasing did in 1999 and 2007 the game will be up. So unless they employ another devious tactic in an attempt to massage the survey results the LGO are between a rock and a hard place of their own making.

Is it time for the LGO and their staff to bail out and make room for those, unconnected with local government, who can do the job properly without resorting to devious tactics to mask their ineffectiveness? I think so.

[1] In 1999 they excluded a significant percentage of dissatisfied complainants from the survey. (I should know because I was one of them). In 2007 they excluded and even greater number of dissatisfied complainants from taking part.