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Data and Citizen Satisfaction: How can you use it to tell your story?

By Heather Bray
November 16, 2021

Citizen Satisfaction, how do we turn it to make it work for us?

Everyone wants to know what citizens think and if we are meeting their ideas of what we, the government, should be doing. The real question is how do we turn citizen satisfaction into letting citizens know what they should be receiving. So often we drive what we do based on what the citizen is saying they want, but is that really what you should be doing?

Your strategic plan, the first part of your story

A correctly completed strategic plan will outline the basics of what you do and why you are doing it from the top down. It sets the stage for everything under your control to have not only a plan and outcomes but targets and goals. This is the first part in telling your story, without a strong plan and direction you become more open to everyone wanting you to cater to the needs of the different citizens versus the citizens receiving the best service possible because you have a strong plan.

Having a strong plan isn’t always just enough, you must also show the citizens and other interested parties how your plan will work to provide them the service they require, here are a few steps in accomplishing that: Performance Measures, Goals, and Targets.

Letting performance measures guide you

Performance measures will help tell the story of how you are doing this year or right now. These are road maps for the year that tell you how you are doing to accomplish your strategic plan. By creating the correct performance measures you can let citizens and other interested parties know how you are coming along this year.

  • Effective performance measures should measure what you are doing this year to accomplish the outcomes established in your strategic plan. Using these over the course of the year, you can tell if you are headed in the direction you need to be to accomplish these
  • The performance measures will tell your story using data in a way that is more easily understood.
  • Combining performance measures with goals and targets will add depth to your data and allow anyone looking at your measures to see if you are doing what you should be doing. All of this combined will back up your strategic plan and ultimately let everyone who is interested see that you are doing as you should be doing, not just based on a citizen, but what is best for all citizens.

Goals and Targets

Using goals and targets to supplement your measures adds validity to your data. From here citizens and others wanting to know can look at your measures and not just see data but see if your data is trending in a way it should be trending.

  1. For each performance measure set your goal, your long term goal (longer than one year), and your short term goal (what your measurements should be at the end of the year)
  2. For each goal set a target, these can be done in many ways. Many times by benchmarking yourselves (what have you done and what can you do in that time frame) as well as using benchmarks from other high performing organizations (these can tell you where you should be to be a high performing organization)
  3. By showing all of this information your strategic plan and measures become more than just data they become your story.
  4. The story tells citizens and others how you are doing, are you doing what you set out to do, is what you are doing accomplishing the outcomes, and the strategic plan for what you do?
  5. Using all of this you can begin to show that using only citizen satisfaction to drive is not always what you should do. It allows you back in control of your story, your fate to let the citizens and others know what you should be doing and if you are accomplishing it.
  6. If you are accomplishing it correctly, citizens should see an improvement regardless of what they thought at the last survey and you are doing right by all citizens, not just a few.

How do I create a strategic plan, performance measures, goals, and targets?

The Performance Institute has several classes to help push your organization from being driven into the driving seat. The entry-level classes will help you create a strategic plan that will lead your organization into the future with long-term outcomes that will set you up for success. The second part of the week will help you develop performance measures to show you are headed in the right direction, or if you are not, you still have time to change what you are doing to achieve your long-term goal. Finally, you will wrap it all together with learning to set benchmarks to show your success. These classes when used together will help drive your organization into one that is high-performing and proactive thus you will drive satisfaction, instead of always chasing satisfaction. For a deeper dive into data analytics and using data to drive your organization there is a data analytics class through the Performance Institute to help you on your way to success.

About the author

Heather Bray

Heather has more than 19 years of experience in the government sector. She started performance management and strategic planning 17 years ago while working in the budget office. Since then she has focused her performance management efforts inside the Public Works department, bringing them from measuring random items to measuring outcomes.

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