How to improve the quality of services through the detection of the needs and satisfaction of citizens
What is CS
With the term customer satisfacion, which translated means customer satisfaction, it is generally indicated a complex process aimed at detecting the degree of satisfaction of a customer / user with a view to improving the product / service offered. The term contains a set of research techniques and phases developed starting from the 90s, especially in the field of private companies. The concept of satisfaction is closely linked to the explicit and latent expectations of the customer / user and to the perception of the quality of the product / service. Detecting customer satisfaction for a private company or a public body therefore means activating a customer / user orientation and an orientation towards improving the quality of services / products. In the public sphere, more than customer satisfaction, we talk about citizen satisfaction, that is, citizen satisfaction (understood not only as a customer or user of a service but as an active recipient of public policies).
For a public administration the detection of customer / citizen satisfaction (CS) can meet the following purposes: - detect the degree of citizens' satisfaction with the services offered; - detect needs, needs and general and specific expectations of the different targets and groups of citizens; - encourage the emergence of latent needs and the listening of "weak" or poorly valued citizens in the general provision of services - collect ideas and suggestions and promote participation; - verify the effectiveness of policies; - strengthen the level of communication, dialogue and trust of citizens with respect to public administrations.
The ultimate goal of citizen satisfaction lies in improving the quality of public services. Detecting the SC allows administrations to get out of their self-referentiality, strengthening the relationship and listening to citizens and above all redesigning public policies and providing services based on the real needs of the recipients of these activities. The central role of the citizen is therefore affirmed, not only as a recipient of services, but also as a strategic resource to be involved in assessing the compliance of the services provided with real needs.
Listening to users and surveying satisfaction should become permanent and constant activities, planned and integrated within the strategies of public bodies. Customer satisfaction must be included in a broad strategy of action, it must be carried out through accurate and adequate methodologies. The survey of customer satisfaction must represent a tool through which public administrations / companies redesign the operational content of their action and intervention strategies, and must have a concrete impact on the services offered with a view to improving quality, initiating processes of change and remodeling of services based on the feedback received. When the comparison with the users of a particular service / product is activated, it is also necessary to be able to manage the conflict and to listen, giving feedback to the requests that are made. Creating expectations in the audience can be a boomerang that turns against the service provider, if he is not able to meet the expectations that have been expressed.
The CS is therefore understood as a real process, and in this sense we speak more correctly of customer / citizen satisfaction management. This process includes various phases: from the setting up of the survey, to the conduct of the customer satisfaction survey, from the analysis of the data, to the implementation of the improvement plan and the related communication actions.
Customer satisfaction in the PA
Measuring the quality of services is now a fundamental and strategic function for public administrations, as it enables the level of efficiency and effectiveness of a service perceived by users to be verified, with a view to redesigning and improving performance.
The recent public administration reform has placed a strong emphasis on managing user satisfaction and improving relations with citizens with a view to strengthening administrations' capacity to implement more effective policies and deliver better public services. The concept of customer satisfaction appears in the PA in the early nineties of the last century, with a view to the culture of orientation towards the citizen and the growing attention to quality.
Article. 12 of Legislative Decree No. 29/1993 and the directive of the President of the Council of Ministers of 27 January 1994 Principles on the provision of public services, identified participation and listening to citizens as useful tools for assessing quality and effectiveness of public administration interventions. More recently, the directive of the Minister of Public Administration Directive on the survey of the quality perceived by the citizens of March 2004, has provided administrations with more precise indications so that the instrument of customer satisfaction contributes to «defining new methods of service delivery or improvement actions of the existing ones, dimensioning their technical characteristics to the actual needs of citizens and businesses "and" encouraging the involvement and participation of the user in the phases of access, use and evaluation of the service, so as to strengthen the relationship of trust between administration and citizen "
The CS represents an indispensable tool for the construction of a public administration not only more effective, but also more democratic and open to an active role for citizens.
In the Directive of the then Department for innovation and technologies Quality of online services and measurement of user satisfaction of July 2005, on the other hand, indications are given on the detection and monitoring of users' satisfaction and expectations on online services as an essential element for the activation of these new channels; the directive indicates three different methods - to be integrated with each other and with the other CS tools -: a direct method, implemented through a questionnaire on the web or by telephone, to be proposed periodically; an indirect method based on information acquired through e-mails received, the contact center and any other form of contact envisaged with users; a "technical" mode based on the analysis of navigation behaviors. A series of actions are then identified that the PAs should implement in the definition and design of new online services.
In the directive of the then Minister for Reforms and Innovations in the Public Administration, for a quality public administration, in 2006, the detection of the satisfaction of citizens and other stakeholders is identified as a priority action for the quality improvement process.