My Department is committed to providing a quality customer service to all its customers and to ensuring continuous improvements in the standard of service we provide. As part of this commitment, my Department carries out a variety of customer surveys to establish the level of customer satisfaction and to identify where improvements can be made.
Every five years my Department commissions an external company to carry out a national independent survey of customer service satisfaction. In 2006 the results of the most recent national customer survey, Consulting with our Customers, were published. This survey, which was carried out by Millward Brown, IMS, was designed to obtain feedback from customers about a wide range of service issues, including overall service delivery, claim processing, information delivery, communications, office facilities and payment methods. The survey involved a sample of 1,018 customers, representative of a number of customer groups such as people with disabilities, pensioners, lone parents, people who are unemployed and carers. The results of this survey were very positive and indicated high levels of satisfaction among our customers — with 88% expressing overall satisfaction with the service provided by my Department — were reported.
In addition to the national survey, two customer surveys were carried out during 2006, one in respect of child benefit and the other in relation to the medical review and assessment, MRA, service. The child benefit survey involved a sample of 960 customers and revealed that 87% of customers were either very satisfied or satisfied with the overall service received, 3% were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied and 5% had no comment.
The Department undertook a major review of the MRA services in 2006. As part of this review, a survey of people referred for medical examination was conducted. The survey involved a sample of 660 customers. The questions were designed to elicit information in respect of customer satisfaction with the medical assessment process and our medical assessors. In addition, information was obtained regarding the quality of service provided by the MRA section of my Department. This survey revealed that 83% of customers felt the quality of service provided was good, very good or excellent, with 17% rating it as poor or fair. In addition, 95% rated the overall service provided by medical assessors as good, very good or excellent.
The carrying out of customer surveys is just one of the methods used by my Department to gauge its performance and to identify how a better service can be delivered to our customers. The principal feedback we receive is from our daily contact with customers. A formal comment and complaint system, which allows customers to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with services, provides us with direct information about customer satisfaction levels.
Given the extent of my Department's contact with the public, the scale of its services and the wide range of schemes it operates, the delivery of a good customer service is paramount. I and my Department strive to continue to enhance our services to meet our customers' needs. I acknowledge the role of public representatives in providing us with feedback on the service. Such feedback is extremely important to the Department.