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Survey results show room for improvement for Buller District Council

26 Jun 2023

The results of Buller District Council’s 2023 Customer Satisfaction Survey show a decrease in residents’ satisfaction with council’s customer service.

The survey, which is carried out every two years, was made available to all Buller District residents and visitors to Council services via online and through hard copies. The survey was available from 1 to 31 March 2023. A total of 244 valid survey responses were received, down from 409 in 2021. There were 499 ineligible online responses which were withdrawn from the final collection and data analysis. The Margin of Error for the 2023 survey was +/- 6.2%.

Acting Chief Executive Officer Sean Judd says: “Council acknowledges that some people filled out the survey more than once in good faith, but the source of the issue was not the actions of those few, but a more concerted effort by others to disrupt the survey. Discussions have been held with Research First over how this occurred and how it could be prevented in future, and Council has since been provided a good faith reimbursement payment of $1,500.”

Overall results show that 71% of respondents are satisfied with the customer service they receive. This is a strong result but down from 89% in 2021.

The majority of respondents, 61%, agreed their matter was dealt with by council in an acceptable timeframe. This is a 26% drop from 87% in the last survey. The results show there was higher agreement (71%) amongst those who had applied for a consent or a licence, but significantly lower agreement (39%) amongst those who had reported an issue/complaint.

In terms of communication, 60% of the respondents said that they visited council’s upgraded website and 82% of them found the new website easy to navigate. This positive figure links directly into resident’s feedback from the 2021 Customer Satisfaction Survey which had multiple requests from respondents to improve council’s website. Overall, 52% of residents were satisfied with the level of information received from council and 42% stated that the council consulted with them on important issues. These scores are significantly below what was achieved in 2021 (82 and 70% respectively).

As observed in 2021, respondents expressed a desire for a variety of communication channels from council. Overall, residents are less interested in social media and prefer traditional communication channels such as telephone and letter/post. This was more prevalent among older people and those residing in the Inangahua Ward.

Social media was the least preferred medium for those above 46 years of age (1%) but residents aged 36–45 years old were more likely to prefer social media (26%). Fifty percent of residents aged 16 to 35 preferred contact through the website.

Acting Chief Executive Sean Judd says there are some good lessons learned for council.

“The results give us some valuable information about how council is currently perceived by residents and how we can improve. The communication results are a good reminder that we need to continue to use a variety of methods to keep residents informed. Letters and in person contact can be harder to manage, and are generally more costly, but we will look at strategies around that.

“We will also look at ways we can improve and/or speed up our responses to reported issues or complaints.

“What is great to see is the positive feedback about our staff, who many residents rated were friendly and helpful (39%). Residents say that the staff who work for council or at council facilities, are great - 43% specifically mention the staff in a positive light.

 “When looking at these results in the wider context, we are aware that, since the last survey, the region has experienced the devastating floods, and everyone is still recovering from those – for some people the battle is still front and centre. This has put the whole community, including council, under more pressure than ever. Our job is to keep working with our community to deliver key services and be part of the solution, and we will keep focussing our energy on that.”

“We want to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey and share their views with us,” says Sean Judd.

The results of the survey are set to be considered by councillors this week.

A summary of the survey results is available on council’s website.


further information please contact:
Acting chief executive officer
Sean Judd

Note to the readers.

The survey was carried out by Research First. As previously reported, there were initially a total of 743 responses, (708 online), but analysis of the data after the survey had closed showed that 499 online responses were invalid.

This included filling out the survey using the same prize draw email (which was valid only once), gibberish responses, reoccurring verbatims, which is evidence of copying and pasting the exact same responses across multiple surveys.

In terms of statistical validity, the 244 responses that were processed are considered to have a 95% Confidence Level, meaning if the survey was repeated multiple times, 95 out of 100 surveys would be expected to produce results within a certain range of accuracy. The Margin of Error for the survey was +/- 6.2%