In DWP we regularly ask our customers about their experience of dealing with us and whether they are satisfied with the service they received. This feedback is one way we can identify whether the services we offer can be improved. However, simply asking whether people are satisfied is not enough. As the Head of Digital and Customer Analytics, I wanted to share a bit about how DWP measures satisfaction and uses this to improve customer service.
But first, let's briefly talk about cat food.
8 out of 10 cats are less important than the other 2
It’s well known that 8 out of 10 cats prefer a certain market-leading cat food. Let’s call it Catisfaction.
This is obviously great news for the makers of Catisfaction. They are officially the tastiest purveyor (no pun intended) of cat food and that statistic proves it. However, when faced with the challenge of improving an already successful product, knowing that 8 of 10 cats prefer their product is a pretty useless statistic for the board of Catisfaction Inc. Instead it is far more important to know about the 20% of cats that would rather dine on Catisfaction’s rivals.
The same is true for DWP. We recently released our latest Customer Satisfaction score. In 2014/15, 82% of DWP customers were very satisfied or fairly satisfied with the service they received. This is really good news and a result we are pleased with; but DWP isn’t in the business of standing still, we are always striving for ways to improve our customer service.
DWP’s Claimant Service and Experience Survey
Satisfaction is a really blunt tool and on its own it doesn’t tell us anything about how we can improve our services, but if you know how to dig a little deeper and collect the right data you can uncover some priceless customer insight. That's why DWP conducts a Claimant Service and Experience Survey; last year we conducted almost 15,000 interviews with claimants who had contact with the Department.
Instead of just focussing on the 82% who are satisfied, we use the results to:
- understand people’s views and experiences of DWP’s services
- detect variations between recipients of different benefits
- identify which aspects are viewed most favourably and which need improvement
This information lets us analyse things such as the ease of contacting DWP, the extent to which people were kept informed on the progress of their transactions, whether payments and communication were helpful and accurate, and the treatment they experienced from DWP staff.
The findings from the survey help to identify areas where service can be improved and helps to reduce unnecessary costs across the Department and provide a more efficient service.
Lessons from Europe
Measuring satisfaction doesn’t just make good sense, it is also now a requirement placed on Member States by the European Parliament. I recently represented DWP at a European Commission event looking at how Member States measure satisfaction within Public Employment Services - and more importantly how findings are used to drive service delivery improvements.
The methodology behind DWP’s Claimant Service and Experience Survey and how we use the results to improve our services is one of the best in Europe. A number of Member States will be visiting the UK next month to learn more from the success of DWP’s approach. But measuring satisfaction isn’t easy and a number of important themes emerged from the workshop; these affect the Member States who have measured satisfaction for a long time, such as the UK, as well as those Member States who are just starting to measure satisfaction for the first time.
The themes are:
- everybody needs a measurement mechanism but there is not one perfect methodology
- keep it simple at first - collecting some useful data is a great place to start. Detailed dashboards and sophisticated reporting mechanisms can come later
- measure things that you are able to change and improve - there is no point focussing on things that can’t be changed
- you need to know what you will do with the data and how you are going to communicate the findings
- interpreting the results can be subjective; a strong link between the analytical teams and operations staff is invaluable for developing worthwhile recommendations
- senior management buy-in is critical as you have to take action on the results. You need to know whose responsibility it is to respond to the recommendations
It was great to share DWP’s expertise with other Member States and to learn from some innovative examples of satisfaction measurement in Europe.
As DWP transforms it business we’ll need to consider how to best measure satisfaction and the experiences people have using our services. The lessons we've learned from the Claimant Service and Experience Survey and the opportunities presented by collecting good data will be vital for measuring satisfaction with digital services in a transformed DWP.
And just like the makers of Catisfaction, DWP will need to focus on all our service users, not just the satisfied ones. This way, satisfaction with services should increase. And by using satisfaction data intelligently and listening to the views of real users we can make more improvements to ensure we deliver our services effectively and efficiently.