I am seeking info and direction on locating any planning and/or inspections department that has used customer opinion surveys, interviews, focus groups, and/or any other methods to gain a better understanding of the performance of the department. We do not want a punative process, but want to obtain input to help guide substantive improvements in department performance. This is not about personnel, but about evaluating and re-engineering the prcesses and procedures of the department; or as one consultant said, we need to spend more time looking for causes rather than culprits. We believe that such a project would help improve our service to our community. However, we need guidance in order to ensure that the assessment is objective, unbiased, and relevant.
For example, we acknowledge that, as in most organizations, our methods of doing things have evolved through the years in a piecemeal basis as procedures have been added to, deleted, or modified. In many instances what started out as a small, simple task has grown into a larger, more complex, and more time consuming methodology. The result is a set of policies, processes and procedures that are often slow, inefficient and not responsive to the needs of either customer or the staff. The system simply evolved, instead of being planned, and became the accepted method of operation because: "That's the way we have always done it!"
Another area of major concern is in the managing of expectation of our customers. We need to do a better job of informing the customer...up front...of exactly what can be expected from our department. Often we let the customer down because they walk into the door with unreal expectations from us because they don't know everything involved in the granting of a particular permit.
Thank you so very much for any assistance or for any direction you can provide. Any leads, resources, or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I can be reached off-forum at firstname.lastname@example.org.