Sometimes it can be really easy: businesses wishing to find out how happy their customers are with their services can simply ask them. Things are a bit more complicated, however, when it comes to surveying local authorities as they are not the ones actually being served even though they are the customer. The services are provided directly to the local inhabitants. Moreover, high levels of satisfaction do not automatically lead to customer loyalty, as European public procurement law is not interested in quality and long-term business relationships between customers and their service providers. Despite this fact, the quality of the work is crucial. If businesses wish to improve their services and products, they need to know what their customers think about them. REMONDIS, therefore, had an independent institute carry out a survey to answer this question.
REMONDIS provides a wide range of so-called “public services” on behalf of its municipal customers. Even if the term “public services” has been overused by politicians, these are basically services which aim to make life easier for local inhabitants or indeed make their life possible in the first place. This includes more obvious services such as collecting waste to promote public health and hygiene as well as water supply and wastewater treatment, road cleaning and winter services, running recycling centres and managing waste and recyclables from public institutions such as hospitals, kindergartens and schools. When it comes to serving the public, customers expect the highest levels of quality and low prices – especially from the private sector. All the more reason, therefore, for having an independent and objective institute find out how satisfied the local authorities are with the services so that further improvements can be made that are based on solid facts.
This spring, REMONDIS commissioned the Hamburg-based firm, Institut Wolff, to carry out a scientifically based survey of its municipal customers to question them about topics such as brand awareness, level of satisfaction with the services provided, image and potential areas for improvement. The people contacted at the German local authorities included mayors, departmental heads and managing directors of municipal companies.
It is essential that objective and independent surveys are carried out to find out about levels of satisfaction so that future services can be further improved.
In order for the results to be as objective as possible, not only the company’s current customers were contacted but also a number of former and potential future customers. To begin with, they were sent a letter informing them that a survey was about to begin. Former and potential future customers were contacted directly by Institut Wolff in order not to distort the results as far as brand awareness and image were concerned. Current and potential customers were given the choice of answering the questions in writing or on the phone; all former customers were contacted by phone as this enabled the institute to elicit more detailed answers.
The results of the survey were most certainly positive. The most obvious area that needs to be improved is complaint management which is particularly affected by weather conditions and leads to increased numbers of complaints in certain seasons. The individual results of the survey are as follows:
When it comes to brand awareness, REMONDIS already has an excellent position in Germany. More than 95% of the public sector employees questioned knew the company’s name.
At the same time, REMONDIS has a very positive image among its municipal customers. They are not only aware of the company’s merits such as “family-run business”, “reliability” and “partnership”, they really appreciate them and see the company as being a trustworthy partner.
The services provided by both the workers and by the contact people were rated by the customers to be ‘good’ or even ‘very good’ – especially in the categories “reliability” and “expertise” which were the most important criteria for the customers.
REMONDIS’ former customers also rated its services to be “good”. This shows that the main reason for awarding follow-up contracts to others was the public procurement law rather than because they were dissatisfied with their private sector partner.
There is room for improvement in the area of complaint management across all regions of the country. Most noticeable here was the seasonal increase in complaints about problems on the roads due to snow and ice caused by the weather and staff being off sick. REMONDIS will be doing everything in its power to optimise its complaint management system to prevent such problems in the future.
The satisfaction index achieved by REMONDIS, namely 81 out of a possible 100 points, reflects the high levels of satisfaction among its municipal customers and partners. At the same time, the results of the survey will spur REMONDIS on to do everything conceivable to provide the local authorities – as its customer – and the local inhabitants – as the people actually receiving its services – with the best possible quality of service in a friendly and competent manner and at fair prices.