A report prepared for the State Services Commission by Colmar Brunton, May 2007, on the results of a survey, known as the Drivers Survey. The Executive Summary to the report is published below.

See also: Media statement from Iain Rennie, Deputy State Services Commissioner, and PowerPoint presentation, attached above. Please Note: The original PDF of the report contained a minor error. If you downloaded this report before Friday 13 July 2007, please visit the link at the top of the page and re-download the correct version. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Executive summary

Introduction

As part of a wider research programme to understand New Zealanders' experience of State services, the State Services Commission contracted Colmar Brunton to conduct a nationwide telephone survey to identify the drivers of New Zealanders' satisfaction with, and trust in, the State services. Additional research objectives were to measure the extent of New Zealanders' confidence in the integrity of State servants when delivering services, as well as to gain a better understanding of the relationship between trust and service quality.

In total, 1,222 telephone interviews were conducted with people aged 15 plus throughout New Zealand in March and April 2007.

Key findings

Only a small majority of New Zealanders (aged 15 plus) express trust in the public service and, whilst most have confidence that public servants do a good job, the public service is perceived to not be good at admitting mistakes or learning from these

Key findings related to perceptions of trust are as follows:

  • More than half (54%) of New Zealanders express trust in the public service (rating this as six or more on a ten point scale where 1 means they do not trust it at all and 10 means they trust it completely). A further 22% are neutral about their perceived trust in the public service (rating of five out of 10) and 23% are negative (rating of one to four out of 10).
  • Overall, New Zealanders express highest perceived trust in the public service for:
    • providing services that meet their needs (56% agree), and
    • confidence that public servants do a good job (55% agree)
  • New Zealanders hold the most negative perceptions in relation to:
    • the public service admitting responsibility when it makes mistakes (52% disagree)
    • the public service learns from the mistakes it makes (42% disagree)
  • Perceived trust in the public service is influenced by strong negative associations gained from family, friends and media coverage (72% agree there is a lot of negative coverage about public services in the media, and 39% disagree that their friends and families say positive things about the public service).

Actual experience can be more positive than general perceptions of the public service

Key findings that illustrate this conclusion are shown in the table below:

 

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          58% perceive the overall quality of public service positively

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          80% view the overall quality of their service experience positively

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          54% trust the public service to some extent

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          81% agreed they can trust them [public servants] to do what is right

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          50% believe public servants treat people fairly

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          85% felt they were treated fairly

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          55% are confident that public servants do a good job

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          84% were confident that staff did a good job

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          40% said the public service keeps its promises

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          84% reported staff kept their promises

*Respondents were asked to rate these attributes on 10-point scales. The figures provided in the table give the % of respondents that gave a rating of 6 or more out of 10.

The State Service's 'Trusted State services' indicator 'You have confidence that public servants do a good job' is the strongest driver of New Zealanders' perceived trust in the public service

The key drivers of trust in the public service are listed below. Together, these drivers explain 57% of the variance in trust ratings of the public service. The percentage given alongside each driver indicates the relative impact that this factor has on driving perceptions of trust.

  • You have confidence that public servants do a good job (38%)
  • The public service provides services that meet your needs (18%)
  • Public servants treat people fairly (15%)
  • The public service keeps its promises - that is, it does what it says it will do (14%)
  • The public service admits responsibility when it makes mistakes (14%)

Generally, improvements in overall service quality will be driven by how well individual services perform in terms of the service experience meeting users' expectations and the performance of staff. Being treated fairly is of much higher importance to Māori than to others.

The key drivers of satisfaction with the service quality of recent public service experiences are listed below. Together, these drivers explain 66% of the variance in satisfaction ratings of recent public service experiences. The percentage alongside each driver indicates the relative impact this factor has on driving satisfaction:

  • The service experience met your expectations (31%)
  • Staff were competent (19%)
  • You were treated fairly (13%)
  • Staff kept their promises - that is, they did what they said they would do (14%)
  • Your individual circumstances were taken into account (13%)
  • It's an example of good value for tax dollars spent (11%)

Situational factors related to a person's involvement with a specific public service (such as the service being mandatory or voluntary, fee based or free, the person being a first time or repeat user, contact being initiated by the agency or user) impact on their key satisfaction drivers.

There is a strong link between perceived trust and perceived service quality

There is a very high correlation between perceived overall trust and perceived overall service quality of the public service. However, the relationship is considerably weaker between overall perceptions of the public service and individual recent public service experiences, with respect to:

  • perceived trust of the public service and trust related to a recent service experience
  • perceived service quality of the public service and service quality recently experienced.

Younger people (aged 15 to 29 years), Asian peoples and those with lower household incomes ($20,000 or less) tend to be more positive about the public service

These groups express higher levels of trust in the public service and hold more positive perceptions in terms of overall service quality. Those on lower household incomes also express higher satisfaction with the overall service quality experienced.

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