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  • Report prepared by:

    2955 Valmont Rd., Suite 300 • Boulder, Colorado 80301

    t: 303-444-7863 • f: 303-444-1145 • www.n-r-c.com

    Environmental Services Customer Satisfaction Survey

    Report of Results March 2017

  • Environmental Services Customer Satisfaction Survey 2017

    Report of Results

    Contents Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................... 1

    Survey Background ......................................................................................................................... 4

    Natural Environment ............................................................................................................... 7

    Solid Waste ............................................................................................................................ 11

    Wastewater ........................................................................................................................... 15

    Surface Water ........................................................................................................................ 19

    Familiarity with EnviroChallenger, EnviroHouse, and Environmental Services Booths ........ 23

    Information Source ................................................................................................................ 27

    Appendix A: Complete Set of Survey Responses .......................................................................... 29

    Appendix B: Verbatim Responses to Open-Ended Survey Questions .......................................... 46

    Appendix C: Selected Survey Responses by Respondent Subgroups ........................................... 47

    Appendix D: Survey Methodology ................................................................................................ 52

    Appendix E: Interview Script ......................................................................................................... 62

  • Environmental Services Customer Satisfaction Survey 2017

    Report of Results | 1

    Executive Summary

    About the Survey The City of Tacoma’s Department of Environmental Services protects and restores natural resources, keeping the city clean, safe and livable through garbage and recycling pickup, wastewater treatment, household hazardous waste disposal, providing protection from stormwater pollution and much more. Environmental Services periodically measures resident opinion about the services it provides to measure the level of satisfaction and public awareness. The results of the 2017 survey, the fifth conducted, will be used to guide programming and outreach for Environmental Services.

    Telephone interviewing of randomly selected customers of Environmental Services was conducted from January 19 through January 29, 2017. A total of 400 telephone interviews were completed; the response rate was 18 percent.

    Survey respondents rated most of the services and facilities provided and maintained by Tacoma Environmental Services favorably.

    There were 26 services or community characteristics evaluated by residents. Average ratings ranged from 58 points to 78 points on the 100-point scale, where 0=poor, 33=fair, 67=good and 100=excellent.

    Of the 26 services and facilities assessed, 24 ratings remained stable from 2014 to 2017. The rating for the Make a Splash grant program decreased from 2014 to 2017 while the rating for the quality of the overall natural environment increased between the two administrations.

    Ratings for 11 of the services evaluated could be compared to a national benchmark (an average of ratings from communities across the nation). Of these 11, five were higher than the national average, two were similar, and four were lower.

    Above the national average Similar to the national average Below the national average

     Yard waste collection services  Your overall impression of Solid Waste

    employee  Solid waste employee knowledge of the topic

    about which you contacted them  Solid waste employee courtesy to you or

    others  Solid waste employee responsiveness to your

    concern or question

     Recycling collection services  Street sweeping

     Overall natural environment in the City of Tacoma

     Garbage collection services  Storm drain maintenance  Overall services such as wastewater

    treatment, maintenance and operation of pipes and pump stations, etc.

    A majority of Tacoma households participated in activities that positively impacted the natural environment and generally thought these activities effectively protected the environment.

    Eight in 10 residents said that members of their household at least sometimes recycled paper, cans, plastic, yard waste and glass. About nine in 10 used non-toxic cleaning products and buy products with less packaging. These participation rates were similar to those reported in 2014. About three-quarters of respondents stated that they composted food and/or yard waste at least

  • Environmental Services Customer Satisfaction Survey 2017

    Report of Results | 2

    sometimes. A new question on the 2017 survey asked if respondents participated in the City’s curbside food waste recycling program; 54 percent of respondents indicated that they did. The main barrier for non-participants was a lack of knowledge about the program’s existence.

    When asked how effective or ineffective they thought these activities were at protecting the environment, eight in 10 respondents felt that most activities were at least somewhat effective, but only 59 percent felt that washing their car on the lawn was effective.

    Fewer residents in 2017 compared to 2014 were familiar with TAGRO, though similar proportions reported using TAGRO products.

    About six in 10 respondents had heard of TAGRO (which is short for “Tacoma Grow,” the City of Tacoma’s award-winning, environmentally friendly landscaping mixes made from wastewater biosolids); a decrease from 2017 to 2014. About one-third of all respondents had used TAGRO, which was similar to 2014. Those who were familiar with the TAGRO program gave it an average rating of 80 on a 100-point scale, similar to 2014.

    Those who had heard of TAGRO were also asked if they knew about TAGRO’s partnership with community gardens; only about three in 10 who had heard of TAGRO knew about the partnership. This was lower than reported in 2014.

    Half of residents believed water in storm drains flowed to a treatment plant rather than directly into the nearest body of water without treatment and few participated in sustainable “low-impact” stormwater management practices.

    Those participating in the survey were asked where, to the best of their knowledge, they thought water went once it entered storm drains. Half believed it ran into the nearest body of water without treatment and half thought it went to a treatment plant. This was similar to what had been observed in 2009 and 2014.

    Responses were mixed regarding respondents’ level of familiarity with a variety of sustainable “low impact” stormwater management practices. At least half of residents were familiar with planting trees, rain barrels and using native plant landscaping, and just under half were familiar with rain gardens and permeable pavements or pavers. Compared to 2014, fewer respondents in 2017 were familiar with rain barrels and more respondents were familiar with permeable pavement or pavers. One-third or fewer reported having installed any of the various low-impact stormwater treatments.

    As in 2014, the 2017 results indicated that few residents were familiar with programs that provide education to residents about environmental issues.

    Tacoma’s Environmental Services uses a variety of methods to reach out to residents and provide education. About eight in 10 of those interviewed were not at all familiar with the EnviroChallenger program that teaches free environmental lessons to Tacoma students.

    Just over one-third of respondents had heard of EnviroHouse (a permanent model home showcasing green building and natural landscape ideas, materials and techniques to create a healthy home and planet, which also highlights yard and home products for the public at the Tacoma Recovery and Transfer Center. Of those respondents, 23 percent had heard of

  • Environmental Services Customer Satisfaction Survey 2017

    Report of Results | 3

    EnviroHouse but had not visited and 13 percent had visited. Among those who had visited EnviroHouse, about four in 10 had been influenced to purchase a product they had seen there.

    Environmental Services also staffs a booth at a number of community events. Overall, half or less of respondents had attended Zoolights, a Rainiers Baseball Game, the Tacoma Home and Garden Show and the Sustainability Expo. Of those who had attended, less than two in 10 said that they had visited the Environmental Services booth. Respondents were most likely to visit the Environmental Services booth at other community events like outdoor concerts, fairs or festivals (18 percent had attended these events and visited the booth) and were least likely to have attended and visited the booth at the Sustainability Expo (5 percent). Visits to the Environmental Services booth at the various events were similar from 2014 to 2017.

  • Environmental Services Customer Satisf

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