3 What New Zealanders value about public services
In order to assess how well public services are performing, we need to understand what New Zealanders value in their public services.
In both 2007 and 2009, researchers asked what aspects of New Zealanders' experience with public services were the most important contributors to their overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction. These are called the 'drivers' of people's satisfaction with public services. Across both surveys, two things stood out:
- The most important single contributor to satisfaction was that the service experience met your expectations. Expectations include being listened to, being treated in a friendly and understanding way by knowledgeable and competent staff, and having a sense that the process was focused on finding a solution.
- The process, that is how people had been treated during the service experience, had a greater impact on their satisfaction than the outcome. People who got what they wanted, but didn't like the way they were treated, were not satisfied.
Other important drivers of satisfaction were being assisted by competent staff who kept their promises, feeling you were treated fairly and having individual circumstances taken into account.
Public services need to be trusted to be effective. In order to improve public services it is essential to know what it is about services that promotes trust.
Research in 2007 identified these as the main 'drivers' that influence trust in public services:
- You have confidence that public servants do a good job
- The public service provides services that meet your needs
- Public servants treat people fairly
- The public service keeps its promises - that is, it does do what it says it will do
- The public service admits responsibility when it makes mistakes.
Of these, the most important influence on trust in public services is having confidence that public servants do a good job.