From 2002 – 2008 the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) conducted annual telephone surveys of permit and land use customers as a key part of our effort to continuously improve our services and programs. During the recession we discontinued those surveys for several years. In 2014 we re-initiated this practice of collecting targeted feedback from our customers with a new approach that includes reaching out via email and providing an online option, in addition to making contacts over the phone.
Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall (DHM Research) conducted the 2014 survey for BDS in August and September 2014. We received responses from 792 permit and land use customers who submitted applications from July 2012 – June 2014. Listed below are some of the indicators of customer satisfaction levels.
|Measure||Group, Process, or Quality||% Satisfied|
|BDS Overall||All Customers||72%|
|BDS Services||Applying for a Trade Permit||90%|
|Receiving a Permit Inspection||81%|
|Applying for a Building Permit||74%|
|Applying for a Land Use Review||68%|
|Asking General Questions about Permitting||66%|
|BDS Performance||BDS Works Collaboratively with Customers||70%|
|BDS Provides Clear and Accurate Service Timelines||65%|
|Receive a Response from BDS Staff Within 24 Hours||60%|
|Reach a BDS Staff Member with Little or No Waiting||49%|
In 2014, for the first time ever, BDS implemented a community survey in tandem with the applicant survey. The community survey was held online and open to all to participate, providing a means for BDS to gather input from stakeholders who are not permit or land use applicants. In addition to promoting the survey in the Development Services Center, BDS did targeted outreach to neighborhood associations and organizations from under-represented ethnic groups and people who interact with our Enforcement Programs. A total of 98 survey responses were sufficiently complete to include in the satisfaction levels listed below.
|Reported a Nuisance or Filed a Code Complaint||47%|
|BDS Responds Actively to Neighborhood and Other Concerns||43%|
|BDS Provides Clear and Accurate Service Timelines||50%|
Overall, the applicant survey found customer satisfaction with BDS Services to be moderately high, with Trade Permit applicants as the most positive group. Customers generally feel that BDS employees are doing a good job, particularly with their professionalism. Community survey responses showed lower levels of satisfaction. Wait time was the top concern for all types of customers in both surveys.
The bureau remains committed to using the survey results as a measure of our operation and customer service satisfaction levels and to make necessary adjustments to improve and meet our process and service level goals. Customer identification of long wait times as the most significant reason for dissatisfaction validates the bureau’s ongoing efforts to expand staffing levels and implement efficiencies. Over the past 18 months, from April, 2013 to October, 2014, the bureau increased the number of employees by 41 (from 190 to 231) and recruitment is underway to fill additional new positions. BDS is adding internal training capacity to assure new employees have the tools to provide high-quality customer service. BDS is also initiating a new internal phone system to allow more customer calls to be answered live, rather than being routed to voicemail boxes. The bureau’s Information Technology Advancement Project (ITAP) is in the process of developing a new permitting and case management system that will facilitate online permit submittal, reducing customer wait times associated with submitting plans in-person, among other benefits.
The BDS surveys from 2008 and prior were designed to ask each respondent about one particular land use or permitting application in their experience. The 2014 surveys gathered information from customers about their overall experiences with BDS. While this significant difference makes it difficult to directly compare results, the average satisfaction rates registered in the earlier surveys were in the same range as those from 2014 (~70%). The results of the revamped 2014 surveys will provide a new baseline from which to assess future survey results.
For more information on the details of the surveys, please feel free to contact Greg Supriano at 503-823-7351 or firstname.lastname@example.org.