Public discussion on Centrelink customer satisfaction and complaint levels does not reflect the full context provided by officials to Senate Estimates last week and information contained in our recently published 2017-18 Annual Report.
Customer satisfaction levels with Centrelink services are being wrongly represented as 46.5 per cent for 2017-18. This was the figure for just one aspect of survey activity and does not recognise the 75.2 per cent overall satisfaction with their most recent interaction.
Our surveys also show improvement against our commitments to deliver services underpinned by respect, quality information, honesty and integrity, and efficiency. In relation to Centrelink services:
- 92.3 per cent agreed staff treated them with respect and 80.8 per cent agreed staff took into account their individual circumstances
- 83.6 per cent agreed staff had told them everything they had to do to get the service and 84.2 per cent agreed they were given accurate information
- 85.1 per cent agreed staff gave them information that was clear and easy to understand
- 82.2 per cent said staff were prompt and efficient.
While complaints rose from 168,709 to 236,563 in 2017-18, this was less than 0.2 per cent of all interactions.
Deputy Secretary Service Delivery Operations, Mr Barry Jackson, explained one of the factors behind the increase to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee (25/10/2018):
“We actually made it a lot easier for people to complain by including the facility on our public website,” Mr Jackson said, “so we actually encouraged people to complain where they could so that we could improve our services and get greater data. That obviously is a two-edged sword…. if you make it easier for someone to complain, they will do so. But the positive side of that is it has given us a lot richer data, which we’re now using through the voice and analytical to actually listen to the complaints and actually then survey these people to then be more targeted in how we do respond to that.
“Something like 83.5 per cent of the people who ring us are getting first-contact resolution, so they ring once, get their answer and don’t have to ring again. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
Concerted efforts to improve claims processing have resulted in Youth Allowance (Student) and Parenting Payment Single claim complaints decreasing by 63.7 per cent and 19 per cent respectively in the first quarter of 2018-19, compared to the last quarter of 2017-18. Call wait time complaints dropped by 11.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2018-19 compared to the last quarter of 2017-18.
There was a 15.7 per cent increase in compliments about Centrelink in 2017-18 (9,859) compared to 2016-17 (8,521).
It should also be noted Centrelink complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman decreased by
9 per cent in 2017-18, with the Ombudsman’s Annual Report acknowledging steps to improve customer experience.