Areas for improvement in delivering services
Court User Survey Results 2015 – http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/reports-and-publications/reports/2015/report-fluss-2015#_TOC_6
The key areas for improvement are generally based on results where the satisfaction level of the applicable interviewees was below 75 per cent. These outcomes have been identified as requiring further consideration by the courts.
The results from the 2014 survey were overall very positive. On many dimensions, the perspective of the clients was that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their court experience.
The 2014 survey does identify several areas of performance and service delivery that may require improvement. Broadly speaking these areas are:
- better management of client expectations about the day in court
- tailoring of information, and
- better management of the experience of respondents.
Additionally, while the 2014 outcome was good, it was not as good as the outcome overall in 2011.
In respect of the users’ day in court, there were several key areas identified for improvement. These were:
- better management of expectations of what will happen next, particularly in respect of the expectations of the respondent and applicant
- better management of expectations of the time a matter will take in respect of the expectations of the respondent and applicant
- better management of the perceptions of the applicant and respondent about how their case was handled, and
- better management of start times for all user roles including lawyers.
All these issues were identified as areas for improvement following the 2011 survey and in each of those, the result in 2014 was worse. The reduction in satisfaction levels between the two survey result sets was in the range of 7 to 13 per cent.
Another group of issues relates to the way the courts tailor their communication to court users and provide the information needed by users to navigate the courts’ processes. These were:
- better information about what was to happen at court, particularly in respect of the applicant and respondent
- simplify court forms for respondents and applicants
- improve the user friendliness of the websites from the perspective of respondents and applicants
- increase client awareness of the ability to file electronically – if clients had used the CCP they were happy with its operation, and
- increase awareness of the NEC and improve its responsiveness.
The survey results showed that the respondent is the least satisfied with their experience. Their satisfaction levels frequently measured below 75 per cent, notwithstanding that for other users, and overall, the results were good. In some areas, the respondent appears to be substantially dissatisfied.
On most specific qualitative dimensions, the satisfaction levels of the respondent without a lawyer were significantly lower than the respondent with a lawyer or the applicant with or without a lawyer.
In order to improve the respondents satisfaction levels, the courts may investigate the results further. It may be there is a need to tailor language, services and information to better meet the respondents’ needs and expectations. A particular focus could be the areas in which their satisfaction levels were below 50 per cent. For example, the ease of completing forms, their understanding of what to expect from their day in court and their perception that the way their case was handled was not fair. Alternatively, and as noted earlier in this report, it may be that the nature of litigation is such that the respondent is always likely to be less satisfied and that the courts cannot necessarily correct that phenomenon in the service support improvements.
The survey results overall indicated that the courts were meeting the needs of most users.
However, even if interviewees were positive in their responses, they appeared to be less positive in 2014 than they were in 2011. This is illustrated by the statistics contained in Appendix B.
Responses to the survey contained some comments which clarified what in particular clients were not happy with. Most of the negative comments were about lengthy wait times, lack of signage, poor information and communication from staff, lack of interview rooms and privacy, general lack of seating in both public waiting areas and within courtrooms, lack of food and beverages, poor parking and child minding facilities and too few staff and judges. These were common to the 2011 survey, but were expressed more frequently in the 2014 survey and meant that clients were more likely to report they were satisfied rather than highly satisfied as in 2011.
While a number of the negative comments addressed court processes, predominantly they related to amenities and services. Accordingly, the next step will be for registry managers to analyse local performance and consider site specific improvements.