Taking The Risk Out Of Customer Satisfaction
How to construct a tailored customer satisfaction survey to take into account a unique position in the industry and the depth of information required.
The Data Analysis Australia Approach:
To develop a methodology combining quantitative and qualitative elements to attain the depth of information required.
A survey that is flexible enough to incorporate changes each year whilst retaining consistency for tracking purposes.
The Insurance Commission was appointed to manage RiskCover, the new self-insurance system approved by State Government, in 1996. RiskCover's responsibility was to completely change the way State Government agencies viewed risk management and insurance. Their mandate was to guide their customers through the transition to RiskCover, raise awareness on risk management, and initiate a new service and a new approach to customer service.
RiskCover has clients across all State Government agencies. Their clients range from small agencies that have limited contact with RiskCover (for example the Albany Cemetery Board), to large agencies that have a sizeable number of claims (for example Fire and Emergency Services Authority). The level and type of risk faced by each agency needs to be understood. This is variable and not dependent on the size of the agency. Some agencies require minimal risk management advice and others require advice on more complex risk management issues. For example the Zoological Gardens Board will differ significantly in its major risks compared to the Treasury Department. From the first survey, it was considered essential to carry out the personal interviews with these clients, and to probe for the reasons behind satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
Unique features of the Insurance Commission that precluded a normal market research survey approach included:
- RiskCover's customers are the entirety of government agencies, with sizes and budgets varying by several orders of magnitude;
- RiskCover was a new product that clients were required to adopt, so the way customers viewed its implementation was particularly important;
- RiskCover needed to know how to keep their customers happy in a new environment;
- RiskCover required the survey process for more than just tracking - they wanted it for the purpose of improving their processes and understanding of what their customers wanted;
- It was important that the survey process was educational and provoked thought within agencies.
With this background, RiskCover contracted Data Analysis Australia to assess customer satisfaction with RiskCover and the new operational management techniques.
The Data Analysis Australia Approach
The unique issues that faced the Insurance Commission could not be resolved with a standard market research survey. Some of the methods employed by Data Analysis Australia to ensure these issues were addressed included:
Data Analysis Australia already had knowledge of the Insurance Commission's staff and customer base, having completed satisfaction surveys in both areas. But RiskCover was a new concept that required thorough knowledge of the product and the industry to successfully carry out a survey. As such a long consultation process with the Insurance Commission was incorporated in the development of the first questionnaire and in order to assess new initiatives implemented each year.
The survey was designed around gathering both quantitative and qualitative information. This was gathered through personal interviews with large agencies by Data Analysis Australia consultants, who probed into reasons behind satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Every year, the changes to the operation of RiskCover are incorporated into the survey to ensure feedback from customers on new tactics is obtained.
In each year current issues were explored while at the same time a core of the survey has remained largely unaltered so that changes in key performance indicators can be reliably tracked over time.
Data Analysis Australia tailored a three tiered approach to measuring customer satisfaction, which consisted of three surveys of varying depth and length with the following stakeholder groups:
- CEOs, using a fax out fax back questionnaire;
- Key contacts from larger agencies that had a 'functional' understanding of RiskCover (ie claims and risk managers), conducted through in-depth interviews with consultants; and
- A mail out and self-completion questionnaire for smaller agencies, which was possible to complete online.
The methodology adopted included questions that varied from rating questions (ie on a scale of 1 to 5, please rate your satisfaction with...) to open-ended questions to provide reliable quantitative measures of satisfaction and performance, plus verbatim comments to expand issues. Rating questions were analysed using a statistical package such as SPSS and results from open-ended questions were incorporated into the report to show findings and achieve depth.
The resulting strategic recommendations have assisted the Insurance Commission in developing RiskCover into the highly successful fund that is operating today. Each year the survey has provided guidance on what the current issues are for the government agencies. A significant result of RiskCover's increased focus on customers and risk management has been an acknowledgement by government agencies that they have a responsibility to manage risk. This is a quantum change from the pre-RiskCover situation. It has also created the challenge for RiskCover to keep up with its customers increased expectations.
A secondary benefit of the survey has been improved reporting for a number of other purposes, including annual reports and remuneration schemes.