Building Control Customer Feedback Report August 2008 1 Introduction As part of Strabane District Council’s SDC building control department’s commitment to their customer care

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Building Control Customer Feedback Report August 2008 1 Introduction As part of Strabane District Council’s SDC building control department’s commitment to their customer care Powered By Docstoc
					     Building Control
Customer Feedback Report
      August 2008
1.     Introduction

As part of Strabane District Council’s (SDC) building control department’s
commitment to their customer care policy, the Council’s Corporate Policy Officer
(CPO) was commissioned to carry out a telephone survey of a number of
randomly sampled customers. The survey was aimed to promote channels of
customer feedback, promote customer participation in service delivery and to
monitor the implementation of their customer care policy. The results the survey
show that 100% of respondents expressed some degree of satisfaction with the
service (either grading it as excellent or good). No respondents were indifferent
and no respondents expressed any degree of dissatisfaction with the service.

2.     Methodology

In accordance with the customers identified in their customer care policy, a
proportion of customers were selected randomly by the CPO following guidance
from building control in relation to the proportion of work that each customer field
generates. 10 customers were sampled at random, the breakdown in terms of
genre are detailed below in table 1.

Table 1: Breakdown of Sample
Customer Genre                                 No of Participants
Architects                                     2
Building Contractors                           2
Members of the Public                          4
Solicitors                                     2
Total                                          10

When the cohort size was determined, the CPO was then given access to the
building control department’s database and a range of customers were selected
randomly to contact to ascertain willingness to participate in the survey. The
building control department commissioned the CPO to select participants at
random and carry out the report to give a degree of independence to the survey,
given that the role is situated outside the department. On contacting each
participant the CPO explained the rational for the survey and encouraged
respondents to freely disclose their views in confidence.

A copy of the questionnaire used in the survey is detailed in appendix 1.
Reponses were graded according to the commonly used Likert psychometric
response scale. Respondents were also given the opportunity to provide their
own comments giving the report both qualitative and quantitative information.
The addition of qualitative data is an advantage given the small sample size. The
five response categories were then scaled to present an ordinal level of
measurement of satisfaction with SDC’s building control department. The results
of which are detailed below.



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3.     Results

3.1    Satisfaction with Building Control Staff

Respondents were asked to grade SDC’s building control surveyors and
administrative staff on a range of different attributes. The results are detailed in
tables 2 and 3 below. (Please note that 1 respondent did not respond to the
questions relating to the surveyors as they dealt directly with the admin staff.)

Table 2:      Satisfaction with Building Control Officers

Q.In general would you agree that our building control officers are:
               Excellent   Good           OK             Bad            Very Bad
Polite         30%         50%            10%
Helpful        20%         60%            10%
Professional 30%           50%            10%
Flexible       30%         30%            20%            10%
Good        at 50%         30%            10%
answering
queries
Easy to get 50%            30%            10%
in     contact
with


Table 3:      Satisfaction with administrative support staff

Q.In general would you agree that our administration staff are:
               Excellent   Good          OK             Bad             Very Bad
Polite         70%         30%
Helpful        70%         30%
Professional 90%           10%
Flexible       70%         30%
Good        at 70%         30%
answering
queries
Easy to get 80%            20%
in     contact
with

The qualitative comments were as follows:

           “[Name of admin officer] was really lovely, nice and helpful”




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3.2    Satisfaction with Building Control’s Information

Participants were then asked to cite their satisfaction with the information that the
building control department issues. The results are detailed below in table 4:

Table 4 Satisfaction with information

Q. When we write to you, is our information:
              Excellent        Good          OK             Bad           Very Bad
Easy to       30%              70%
understand
Easy to act   30%              70%
upon

Participants were then asked for their willingness to receive information in other,
more accessible formats. The answers are detailed below in table 5.

Table 5:      Willingness to receive information in accessible formats

When we write to you would you like us to provide information in
                          Yes                          No
Large print               50%                          50%
Braille                   50%                          50%
Another language          50%                          50%
Audio format              50%                          50%

Commentary:
Generally most respondents stated that whilst they did not need information in
these formats at this present time, they recognised that it was important that
information was available in accessible formats when required.

Participants were then asked what format they would prefer Strabane District
Council’s building control department to provide information in. The results are
detailed below in table 6. Please note that one respondent did not want to
answer this question as he stated that all forms of written information should be
provided directly to his/her client.

Table 6:      Customer preferences regarding the format of information
Q. In what format would you prefer us to provide information:
                           Yes                         No
Letters                    90%
Website                    30%                         60%
Email                      70%                         20%
Graphs                     40%                         50%
Pictorial                  40%                         50%
Audio                      20%                         70%


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Commentary:
It is notable that most of the solicitors and architects were willing to accept
information in written and email form only. One architect stated that the email
was acceptable when information needed to be communicated quickly. He added
that it was important that recommendations and evidence of inspections were
followed up in formal written report.

3.3  Overall satisfaction with Strabane District Council’s Building Control
Department

Participants were then asked to reflect on their answers in relation to the officers,
administration staff and the information given to them whilst in contact with the
department and score their satisfaction overall. The results are detailed in Table
7 below. The results show that 100% of respondents expressed any degree of
satisfaction, none were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and none expressed any
form of dissatisfaction.

Table 7: Overall satisfaction with Strabane District Council’s Building
Control Department
            Very          Satisfied    Neither       Dissatisfied  Very
            Satisfied                  satisfied not               dissatisfied
                                       dissatisfied
Percentage 20%            80%

Improvements suggestions

Respondents were then asked how SDC’s building control department could
improve their services and whether they had any further recommendations.

                        “Not really”. (Member of the public)

                           “No”. (Member of the public)

       “They didn’t give a time when they would be back they just landed”.
                              (Member of the public)

“No. I never had any complaints. The property certificates are coming a lot faster
 now that the market has slowed. This has shown me that they are efficient and
 proves that the delay in issuing of property certificates was due to the fact that
they were dealing with a backlog of work in the past. It is good to see the service
    improving as we have found that banks for example have paid people off
 because of the market slowdown and their service remains as slow as before”.
                                     (Solicitor)




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 “For a £40,000 fee we got what we wanted. A completion certificate. I think that
    the service is used to dealing with smaller projects and they are not used to
   dealing with projects on such a large scale as ours. I think that we needed a
       more formal and structured approach. For example, it would have been
  preferable if we had an agreed, written schedule of inspections on a fortnightly
    basis for example. We found that things were happening in dribs and drabs.
  Nothing was ever put down on paper. I had concerns regarding this and one of
       the surveyors stated that “there is a method to our madness”. It left me
   vulnerable to clients regarding outstanding issues as the feedback I received
   from building control was entirely word of mouth and it was delivered on site,
   direct to the builders. I needed a direct line of formal communication. I would
   have preferred a formal report following the inspection that told me when the
 inspection took place, what the findings/recommendations where and when the
follow up inspection would be so that everyone could see what was required. We
paid a £40,000 inspection fee and if anyone asked me for evidence of how many
     times they were on site and when these inspections took place I could not
 provide it. They often spoke to the foreman on site and on a project this size this
       was not suitable. It was somewhat wishy washy. I needed more formal
       reassurance. That said, this is not a complaint. I just want to give some
  constructive feedback so if they are ever dealing with a project this size again
               that they will have better processes in place.” (Architect)

      “The turnaround time for property certificates could be quicker.” (Solicitor)

 “Perhaps easier access to the guidelines. Perhaps you can pick them up at the
  office, I don’t know? Overall everything was dead on.” (Member of the public)

                  “Everything is running very smoothly.” (Architect)

“We have dealings with a range of building control departments across Northern
 Ireland and Strabane District Council’s building control department is the best.
    [Neighbouring council] would need to take a run up the road and see what
                          Strabane does”. (Contractor)

                                “Nothing.” (Contractor)


3.4     Value for Money

Respondents were then asked if they felt that they got value for money (VFM) for
the fee that they pay. The quantitative results are detailed below in table 8 and
the qualitative comments are cited in blue thereafter. The table shows that 70%
of respondents felt that they did get value for money and 20% of respondents felt
that they did not get value for money.




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Table 8:    Perceptions in relation to VFM
Q. Do you feel that you get value for money for the fee that you pay?
Yes                                    70%
No                                     20%
Don’t Know                             10%

“The fee has gone up well over £1,000. It is an awful lot of money for our current
                          clients to pay.” (Contractor)

       “No, I think that they are doing a good job.” (Member of the public)

   “Perhaps a more computerised system would help? We pay £30 for a DOE
property certificate and I don’t see why we should pay £60 for a certificate when
 the inspections are already carried out. Perhaps looking at this would increase
                            value for money”. (Solicitor)

 “For the fee that we paid we got what we wanted. However the process needs
 tightening up in terms of a paper trail to document inspections for larger scale
                               projects” (Architect)

“I feel that it is somewhat frustrating that we pay the same fee province wide yet
   there is a wide disparity in the quality of service that we provide. Strabane is
      definitely one of the better ones in terms of providing value for money.”
                                      (Contractor)

“I think that 6 individual inspections are too much. I tried to tie in two inspections
 into one so that they didn’t have to come out twice. This would save costs and
                            money.” (Member of the public)


3.5   Complaints

Questions were then asked in relation to respondents’ awareness of the building
control department’s complaints procedure. The results are detailed in table 9
below.

Table 9:    Awareness of the complaints procedure
Response                                               Yes           No
Are you aware of the procedure?                        50%           50%
Have you made a complaint?                                           100%
Where you satisfied the way the complaint was handled?               N/A




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3.6    Inspections outside core hours

Respondents were then informed that Building Control can carry out inspections
outside core hours of 9-5pm Monday to Friday to suit the specific needs of the
customer. Respondents were asked whether this would be helpful. The
responses are detailed below in table 10.

Table 10:   Perceptions re the helpfulness of inspections outside core
hours
Response                                        Yes No
Would a Saturday morning inspection be helpful? 90% 10%

3.6    Accessibility of Service

Respondents were asked if they had a disability that makes it difficult to access
the building control information and services. The responses are detailed below
in table 11.

Table 11:    Do you have a disability which makes it difficult to access
information and services provided by building control?
Response                                                           Yes No
Do you have a disability which makes it difficult to access             100%
information and services provided by building control?

Commentary

Whilst all respondents stated that they did not personally have a disability, one
respondent stated that she was responding on behalf of her sister (a client of
building control) who was paralyzed and had subsequent mobility impairments.
She stated that she was her sister’s carer and assisted her in dealing with official
matters. She stated that her sister had no difficulty in accessing building control’s
information and services because she had access to this carer service.

It also is worth pointing out at this stage that one of the architects contacted had
a speech impairment and he enlisted a member of staff within his office to
respond on his behalf.

Finally, respondents were asked whether they had any final comments to make
in relation to the building control service. The comments are detailed below.

                         “I had no bother with the service.”

                            “It is a very helpful service”

                   “I am generally very happy with the service.”




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The findings within the above report were discussed at a staff meeting held
on the 1 September 2008:

Staff noted that satisfaction levels had increased from 2007. They reflected
individually on the comments received from each of the customers – from
architects, contractors, solicitors and members of the public. Officers noted the
customer’s experience of engaging with the department in a challenging, large-
scale construction project and noted that the feedback was helpful.


It was also noted that a solicitor suggested that the department should adopt a
computerised system for property certificates. It was agreed that further
correspondence to solicitors about the online property certificate service would
be helpful.




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