When a business puts a product on the market, sales are often a good indicator for whether that product is serving its customers well or not.
If customers like it, they buy more of it — if not, not so much. And if they ain’t buying what you’re selling, you’re not going to be around long.
Granted, that’s a gross overstatement but it makes the point that businesses can have some sense of the pulse of their market by watching their sales trends.
City government doesn’t necessarily have a lot of sales figures to analyze so it’s often hard to get a good read on how the City is doing in the eyes of the customer. Sure, we have plenty of anecdotal data from calls, emails or letters we get but reading too much into those can be a mistake because they usually only capture data from the less happy sector while the silent majority may be satisfied and they never feel compelled to write or call.
To get that bigger picture, cities try to use survey instruments to gather data and observe trends. In Kent I’ve seen survey data that goes back 20 years and while the technology has changed, the intent to get input from residents remains the same today.
The City just completed a round of phone surveys that covered the gamut of city issues — what are you most proud of in Kent? what’s our most important issues? are you satisfied with Fire & EMS? how do you get information on city issues? do you vote? etc. The list goes on but I think you can get a better flavor for our effort by scanning the results.
Here’s a couple of the highlights from the September 2012 telephone survey compiled by a local survey firm (for full results, click here) :
I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the earlier survey results to see what’s changed and what’s remained the same.
Here’s some findings from the 2006 resident survey (for full survey results, click here):
The questions were not set up exactly the same in the 2006 and 2012 versions of the survey so it’s hard to draw too many firm conclusions from the data. However, it would seem that residents are generally encouraged by the progress experienced in the community on some of the longstanding development issues that are taking shape downtown.
That’s great, but there’s lots of work to do in keeping up our aging infrastructure, particularly streets and sidewalks.
We plan to do more analysis of the data in the months that follow as we prepare for some strategic planning updates with City Council early in 2013.