5. Timeliness and Keeping Customers Informed
More than half of customers (56%) are satisfied with the timeliness of various aspects of the service they received, which is a slight increase from 53% in 2017.
Among the 23% of dissatisfied customers, most criticism relates to 'processing the application and granting a building warrant and responding to telephone enquires' (Figure 8).
Figure 8 Timeliness of service aspects (all customers)
Direct applicants responding to the survey are more satisfied than agents with respect to the timeliness of all aspects of the service, as was the case in 2016 and 2017.
The 2018 breakdowns by applicants and agent are shown in Figures 9 and 10, below.
Figure 9 Timeliness of service aspects (direct applicants/submitters)
Figure 10 Timeliness of service aspects (agents)
5.2 Keeping customers informed
Over half of surveyed customers (54%) are satisfied with the way they were kept informed about the progress of their application or submission. This is a slight increase from 51% in 2017. Over a quarter (27%) are not satisfied and this is highest among agents (Figure 11). This is a decrease from the 32% that were not satisfied in 2017.
Figure 11 Satisfaction with the way kept informed
Among respondents stating, 'fairly dissatisfied' or 'very dissatisfied', 522 provided supporting reasons. These customers primarily gave examples relating to communication, either in the initiation of communications or responsiveness. This was consistent between agents and applicants.
The main reported issues include slow and inadequate communications, with limited interaction, transparency and guidance from local authorities on progress. Customer perceptions were that resource mismanagement and a lack of resources were the main causes of issues. Staff holidays, high case officer turnover and the e-portal are cited as common responses rationalising delays.
"There is seldom any communication around timeframe to process. some response to complaints but it is not possible as a large contracting authority for us to continually chase. good communication on timeframe would be helpful to allow us to plan programmes of work."
"Lack of feedback, failure to return calls or emails, no progress for months on end, occasional promises of soon which never actually happens."
"It is almost impossible to contact building control officers either in writing or by phone and there is no standard procedure for tracking application progress which could be done online via a portal or even an excel tracker document."
"Communication was difficult - almost impossible to get a useful telephone conversation with my case officer. Makes progress slow."
"You are informed when the application is lodged and then it sits in a queue for approx. 1-12 weeks with no feedback and if you do all you are told is that it's in a queue. The status part of the portal should be changed to let people know approx. weeks until vetting. Once vetted and comments done and re-submitted, you are back into the wilderness of not know status until you either get another letter asking for more information or your approval. Far too much dead time, no updates meaning as an industry it is causing serious delays to projects and thus jobs."
"Progress is barely informed at all and it is extremely difficult to make contact with warrant officers to find out about progress as they do not take phone calls or reply quickly to email. Emails feel like they go into a void and you don't know if they have been seen."