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Staff capability

About this research

This research investigated customers’ views (both consumers and businesses) on NSW Government staff capability in the context of customers’ recent interactions with NSW Government services.

There were 23 NSW Government services in scope, including public schools, hospitals, car registration and art galleries (see the full list of services). 

The insights below are from:

  • a quantitative survey completed by 999 consumers and 252 businesses in February 2018
  • qualitative research through 2 90-minute focus groups, held in the Sydney CBD and Parramatta in February 2018, with 14 consumers
  • qualitative research through 8 one-on-one 45-minute telephone interviews with business.

Respondents were recruited based on a mix of age, gender, location, and experience.

The quantitative research explored which staff values (for example, patience, curiosity and professionalism) are most important for customers.

The qualitative focus groups explored the staff behaviours that demonstrate those values and why they are most important to customers. Statements marked by quotation marks indicate verbatim comments from respondents.

Perceptions of value and performance

Communication, quality service, efficiency, professionalism and honesty were the attributes that customers valued the most when dealing with NSW Government staff.

Staff characteristics considered the most important

Preferred attribute Consumers Businesses
Communicate clearly 64% 55%
Provide quality service 60% 47%
Are efficient 56% 50%
Are professional 48% 49%
Are honest 47% 43%
Are reliable 45% 39%
Are effective 39% 38%
Are patient 38% 32%
Are responsible 32% 37%
Are innovative 6% 8%

The majority of customers’ interactions with NSW Government staff were positive. Negative interactions with staff impacted not only on customers’ perceptions of staff capability, but on overall satisfaction with NSW Government services.

How well did staff exhibit characteristics (1 to 10)

Performance against attribute Consumers Businesses
Communicate clearly 7.9 7.7
Provide quality service 7.6 7.5
Are efficient 7.7 7.6
Are professional 7.8 7.6
Are honest 7.9 7.6
Are reliable 7.7 7.5
Are effective 7.6 7.4
Are patient 7.8 7.6
Are responsible 7.7 7.4
Are innovative 7.0 7.0

Consumer insights

Consumers gave consistent ratings across all the performance attributes, with the exception of innovation. Innovation was the lowest performing attribute.   

Females rated the performance of NSW Government staff higher than males.

Regional consumers gave higher ratings overall than those in metropolitan areas. However, metropolitan consumers gave higher ratings for quality service and professionalism than regional consumers.

Consumers aged 65 and over gave the highest ratings. Consumers aged 25 to 34 gave the lowest ratings.

Qualitative research showed that consumers often felt as though NSW Government services perceive them as a number rather than as a customer.

What made it a positive experience?

Feedback included:

  • “Communication is the key.”
  • “They were very helpful and got everything processed in a timely manner.”
  • “The employee was empathetic and took time to listen.”
  • “The staff member had a full working knowledge of the process required and was very pleasant to deal with.”

What would have made it better?

Feedback included:

  • “More staff and more training.”
  • “Have people that can make decisions and think outside the box.”
  • “The ability for staff to listen and be more understanding.”
  • “Employees actually being able to give me the correct information.”

Business insights

Businesses gave consistent ratings across all the performance attributes, with the exception of innovation. Innovation was the lowest performing attribute.   

Sole proprietors gave the lowest ratings for almost all staff attributes, while businesses with 10 to 19 employees gave highest ratings for almost all staff attributes.

Businesses with 6 to 9 employees rated communication the highest, while businesses with 20 to 199 rated communication the lowest.

Females rated overall staff performance higher than males.

Businesses in metropolitan areas have lower satisfaction than regional areas. Due to the low sample size, however, these results are indicative only.

What made it a positive experience?

Feedback included:

  • “Friendly, efficient and informative.”
  • “The employee knew what they were talking about.”
  • “Friendly courteous service, keeping me up to date with what was happening and very efficient.”
  • “Customer service was at a high level. The ticketing system in order to be attended to the appropriate employee was simple yet structured.”

What would have made it better?

  • “More training.”
  • “Quicker response time.”
  • “One person taking my issue on and seeing it through until it was resolved.”
  • “Better communication, empathy and understanding of my situation.”
  • “Provision of more intuitive training to employees to enhance their client relations.”

Consumers and business

Quantitative survey results indicated that 79 per cent of consumer interactions and 80 per cent of business interactions were positive. Qualitative research indicated that positive interactions with NSW Government staff led to increased trust and confidence in NSW Government services.

Quantitative survey results indicated 21 per cent of consumer interactions and 20 per cent of business interactions were negative. Qualitative research indicated that negative interactions led to frustration, stress, anger and a loss of confidence and credibility in NSW Government services.

Many of the attributes measured are interrelated, and cannot be exhibited by staff in isolation. This is consistent with the lack of variation in performance for the attributes in the quantitative survey – both businesses and consumers feel that staff performance on one attribute is dependent upon, or indicative of performance on other attributes.