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"Making Every Contact Count" - Case study from New Zealand Police

Putting the people we serve at the centre of everything we do is critical to the way Police works. Over recent years we have focussed on people's service experiences with Police, particularly victims of crime. Our vision is to have the trust and confidence of all. Central to this is that we make every contact count.

Service quality is a critical driver for policing services. Police has used the New Zealanders' Experience (NZE) research programme in a very practical way to tie the expectations on New Zealanders to the way we develop, manage and monitor the public's service experiences with Police.

In the Beginning

In 2007, we were looking at new ways to be more citizen centred. At the same time the SSC embarked on the New Zealanders' Experience (NZE) research programme. The resulting Drivers of Satisfaction that the NZE programme identified resonated with our own work in understanding what was important to the people we served.

The Police Executive approved Service Excellence - a programme of work focussing on the public's service experiences with Police that aimed to make every contact with a member of the public count. One of the first actions was to set up the Citizens' Satisfaction Survey, using the Common Measurements Tool (CMT), so that we could understand people's experiences and track progress.

Using the Drivers of Satisfaction

We wired the Drivers of Satisfaction into every aspect of our services: from our commitment of service to the public, to service delivery standards for every point of contact and to measuring and monitoring people's service experiences.

We have made a commitment to the public to meet their expectations. Our commitment is based on the drivers of satisfaction:

  • We will treat you fairly.
  • Our staff will be competent.
  • We will do what we say we'll do.
  • We aim to meet your service expectations.
  • We will take your individual circumstances into account.
  • Our service will be good value for your tax dollars.

Building the Voice of Citizens into Police Services

We focused on people's service experiences: at the roadside, on the telephone, at the station and for all other operational interactions. We asked people to tell us what behaviours were important for each of the drivers at each point of contact. We asked the same thing of our front line staff.

The information gave us a clear understanding of what behaviours our staff and leaders need to demonstrate to meet the expectations of the people we serve. We used it to create service delivery standards. We have standards for all points of contact including ones for our Information and Communications Technology Service Centre who provide a service to internal customers.

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Making it Memorable

We developed the PEOPLE framework to help people remember the drivers of satisfaction and our Commitment of Service. We linked each driver to the corresponding letter of PEOPLE - Positive, Expert, Ownership, Professionalism, Listening, and Excellence. The PEOPLE framework is used in training and visual materials.

Over the last six years most staff in front line service delivery roles have received some form of Service Excellence training - leadership workshops, face to face and online training. They are now part of business as usual. All new Police recruits learn about the drivers through the PEOPLE framework.

Embedding the Drivers of Satisfaction – An Example

The practical application of Service Excellence can be seen in the way the Communications Centre (Police call centre) has embedded the drivers of satisfaction into the way they do their business. They are a core part of training and the quality assurance process.

The National Communications Centre management team prepares quarterly reports on their Citizens' Satisfaction Survey results including verbatim comments and opportunities for improvement for staff. They have seen sustained improvement over time in the ratings people who have received services from the Communications Centre give them.

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Measuring and Monitoring

We have used the Common Measurements Tool questions in our Citizens' Satisfaction Survey since 2008 to measure our progress and to better understand people's service experiences. Gravitas Research and Strategy Limited interview a random sample of around 10,000 people per year on our behalf. They also call a targeted sample of people who have called the Communications Centre.

Around 41% of people in the random sample will have had contact with Police in the last six months. We are interested in their service experience. Results are used in a variety of ways. Key measures - overall satisfaction and being treated fairly – are included in monthly performance reports for the Executive. Districts receive tailored reports.

Results are used to track progress and identify opportunities for improvement particularly for communities that are important to us such as victims of crime, Māori and young people. We now have a significant database of over 80,000 interviews to assist our understanding of people's service experiences.

How have we Done?

We can show a range of improvements over time for people's service experiences with Police at national, district, demographic and point of contact levels over time (2008/09 - 2014/15):

4% - increase in people who had a face-to-face interaction (not at the roadside or station) agree/strongly agreeing that they were treated fairly (88% - 92%).

5% - increase in overall satisfaction with service experiences at the roadside (79% - 84%).

6% - increase in the people who called their local station agreeing/strongly agreeing that the service they received was good value for tax dollars (67% - 73%).

8% - increase in callers to Communications Centre who agreed or strongly agreed their individual circumstances were taken into account (78 - 86%).

10% - increase in people very satisfied with their overall service experience (37% - 47%).

11% - increase in people whose service experience at the public counter was better or much better than they expected (28% - 39%).

12% - increase in people who telephoned their local station strongly agreeing that staff were competent (34% - 46%).

14% - increase in callers to Communications Centre who strongly agreed that we did what we said we would do (34 - 48%).

We also measure level of trust and confidence in Police in the Citizens' Satisfaction Survey. The most common reason people give us for their trust and confidence in Police having improved over the last year is a positive service experience. Trust and confidence in Police has increased from 72% to 77%.

Next Steps

We have made a commitment to the public about the quality of service that they can expect from us. We will continue to focus on improving the service experiences of the people we serve whenever and however they have contact with us. The feedback gathered from the public using the Common Measurement Tool assists in deepening our understanding of people's service experiences and ensuring that we are keeping our services aligned with the expectations of the communities we serve. Providing excellent service is part of the NZ Police overall strategy.

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