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Local Government Market Research

newfocus is a full service market research and social research agency, which has the capacity and flexibility to work with our clients to tailor the best approach to understanding the needs of your community. This may be through one of the below methodologies, a combination of approaches or other methodologies, which can be discussed and brainstormed in more detail in person.

Annual Community Surveys / Resident Satisfaction Surveys

Every year, newfocus conducts a number of tracking surveys on behalf of Councils. These are often Resident Satisfaction Surveys, mostly conducted on an annual basis and many of those we undertake on behalf of our valued clients are conducted via a CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) methodology. Some of the areas covered in such surveys can include the following:

  • awareness and usage of services
  • satisfaction with council overall and their provision of services
  • value for money perceptions
  • satisfaction with council engagement
  • areas for improvement
  • wellbeing of residents

newfocus provide reports to our clients which summarise how they are currently performing compared to their past performance and we can also undertake further analysis to better understand what ‘drives’ overall satisfaction with council, therefore indicating areas of priority for council to consider moving forward. Given our experience with a number of local councils, we are able to provide benchmarks to illustrate how councils compare against each other (while maintaining anonymity of councils).

Research to Understand Communications Preferences

newfocus have worked with local government clients in the past to better understand how their residents feel about the communications they receive from council. We have asked residents some of the following lines of questioning:

  • how do they currently look for information about council
  • how do they currently receive information about council
  • which communications are most relevant/useful to them
  • engagement and appeal of social media communications
  • testing satisfaction with specific council communications, ie quarterly newsletter, website etc

The results from this research have provided insight to clients about how best to allocate their marketing budget and to also look for ways to better engage or communicate with residents of different demographic profiles, particularly younger residents.

Councils have engaged newfocus to conduct qualitative research studies to evaluate their current marketing activities.  This has included community satisfaction with the council and testing perceptions of marketing activities and existing communication material. We have developed recommendations on improving communication tactics and the work of the Marketing Unit.

Customer Experience Testing

The ability to measure the level of service staff provides to residents or ‘customers’ when they use council-run services is important as frontline staff play an important role in representing the overall image or brand of council.

newfocus has utilised mystery shopping as one way to measure the level of service that has been provided to customers. We have a team of mystery shoppers who can contact council face to face, via telephone or online in order to measure the overall experience. Other methods that can be used to monitor customer experience are:

  • face to face exit surveys (as customers leave a touchpoint, ie library, recreation centre, community centre)
  • follow-up online surveys sent after recent contact
  • follow-up telephone surveys after recent contact

Strategic Planning Research

newfocus has worked with councils across Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia assisting with evaluating resident perceptions towards their strategic plan. We have coordinated and run large-scale community sessions with different segments of residents to understand their perceptions of council’s future plans, and get their input as to the steps that council could take in order to achieve their plans for the area. This has served to empower residents in assisting council in their decision-making and allows them to take ownership of creating ideas and steps for their council to achieve short, medium and long term objectives.

Community Perceptions / KPI Measurement / Resident Trade-offs

We have worked with local government to understand resident perceptions of council, and to assist council in identifying how residents feel that council performs against their set KPIs. It is important for a council to understand how they are currently performing in the eyes of their largest stakeholder – the community.

We were able to identify what is actually important to residents, where they feel council may need to focus their efforts and identify the areas that are less important to residents to assist in allocating resources. We have also tested resident appeal of increased/reduced council rates in exchange for upgraded/altered services offered to the community.

Understand Perceptions of Council from an Outsider’s Perspective

Other research we have conducted for local government has included an assessment of external perceptions of a specific council, including key stakeholders in regional development boards, political bodies, residents, and local business figures. This also involved the testing of a new communications strategy aimed at attracting new residents, employees and businesses into the Local Government arena.

Understand Specific Segments / Issues within the Community

newfocus has conducted telephone interviews (CATI) on behalf of a council to collect residents’ perceptions towards people with a disability and their involvement in the community.

Targeting younger residents in particular has also been used to give councils a deeper understanding of the issues that are most important to the younger generation of residents.

We have also explored environmental issues as well as carbon gas emissions with residents of this council area. The project design involved community consultation using qualitative (focus groups) and quantitative (telephone survey CATI) techniques.  The projects in this area collected the views of a representative sample of the population with stratification by age, gender, nationality and geographical location.

Staff survey

newfocus conducts staff surveys on behalf of a council in order to identify, assess and evaluate staff attitudes towards the workplace. A particular staff survey for example assessed over 100 aspects of the working environment, grouped into 15 categories, relating to overarching aspects of working for this particular council.

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