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31 Jul 2015

7 key questions to measure citizen satisfaction

Alejandro Pareja

Leer este blogpost en español aquí­.


We often hear (and repeat) that the information society has generated better informed citizens. We also often hear that, in our region, after a decade of high economic growth, the standard of living has risen significantly. Given these two facts, citizens have higher expectations regarding the quality of public services they receive. Thus, they increasingly pressure governments to make improvements in this regard. In four words: We have citizen dissatisfaction.

In this context, several questions arise:

  1. Is it possible to quantify the levels of quality and satisfaction and establish trends and comparisons (benchmarking) between services and between countries?
  2. Do we know the level of quality that people expect and which aspects require prioritization? This helps determine where improvement efforts should focus and how much should be improved without wasting resources.
  3. Is citizen satisfaction part of the set of performance measures used by service providers? And as a corollary: Can we evaluate the performance without including users’ experience?
  4. Are capable of engaging in a dialogue with citizens about the quality of services that is based on evidence, i.e., on measurements? In this regard, related questions arise: Are we being transparent with citizens on this issue? Are we willing to be accountable, that is, to initiate the improvement projects that a measurement of quality and satisfaction may identify?
  5. How do we involve those not participating? As we know, a large majority of citizens never express their views to governments. How do we give them voice?
  6. It is easier to govern when citizens trust their government. What is the relationship between citizen satisfaction and trust in the government and its agencies?
  7. Do citizens prefer more e-government or more face-to-face services?


To answer these questions and many others, the IDB launched this year the project “Simplifying Life for Citizens” (SLC), through which a measurement methodology has been developed and is being tested in six countries in the region: Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay. For this pilot edition, six transactional services will be analyzed in each of the six countries:

  1. Registering a child in public school
  2. Making a doctor’s appointment in the public health system
  3. Registering a birth
  4. Applying for a disability allowance
  5. Reporting a burglary or larcency (theft)
  6. Renewing an ID card

The goal is to provide governments with quantitative information on the causal relationship between the various attributes of quality and the satisfaction that citizens experience. With this information, service managers will have a powerful argument to prioritize improvement projects, and also to know what projects should be addressed and which ones should be avoided. It should be remembered that governments should address only those improvements that people will appreciate.


We understand that this contribution is very significant, especially considering the limited budgets with which public organizations deal, where there is no way to cover all needs at the same time.

We will be evaluating internal attributes (the steps that each organization takes to deliver the service) as well as external ones (what citizens experience). For this second aspect, between July 8 and September 8, we will be conducting an online satisfaction survey among Facebook users from each of the six countries, who have used any of the six services during the past year.

If you are part of this group of citizens, please contribute to the improvement of services by providing us the details of your experience.’

Governments that decide to engage in projects like this one are sending a very clear message: they assume their role as leaders, they want to be proactive, they have the willingness to learn from citizens and, most importantly, they have the will to improve the situation.

At the IDB we hope this pilot project confirms that we are on the right track and that soon we will move to a regular implementation of the SLC project, covering the 26 IDB countries and all relevant services for citizens.


ChileEncuestaBID EcuadorEncuestaBID
PanamáEncuestaBID ParaguayEncuestaBID
Trinidad & TobagoEncuestaBID UruguayEncuestaBID
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