Resident Satisfaction with Value of Services for the Taxes Paid

Resident satisfaction with value of services provided

What is the story behind the curve?

Positive Factors
 “Good government” practices. Montgomery County has a high quality of the county workforce and values access to services, transparency and accountability, collaboration between government and non-profits to provide needed services, and operates with a high level of integrity and a very low level of corruption.
 Available resources and amenities. We are a relatively wealthy county and can provide a high quality of life and the resources and variety of services that meet the needs of our residents, including parks and recreation, community centers, schools, and very nice facilities for the public.
 Communication. The County’s website is effective and there are a number of transparency tools and public-facing accountability mechanisms (though residents may not have a complete understanding of how tax dollars are being spent).
 Visible investments. Initiatives such as community revitalization (e.g. downtown Silver Spring and Wheaton) create positive feelings about community, which can translate to positive ratings for local government.
 High employment rate. When jobs are available for residents they are happier, which can translate to positive ratings for local government.

Negative Factors
 Financial sentiment. Real or perceived high level of taxation, especially property taxes, housing prices, etc. for regular residents while developers benefit from numerous incentives.
Obstacles to access. It can be hard to find and obtain the service needed, whether searching on the County website or using MC311 to reach an employee. The physical locations of some service locations (e.g. RSCs) may be inconvenient and thus a barrier to service.
 Structure and responsiveness of County government. Residents may encounter too many layers of authority, which can the County’s response. There is a lack of information flow between the County and residents and systems such as the County’s new hiring process and the building/permitting are lengthy and complicated. More frontline workers with better training would help, as would better representation of County interests at the State level. The overall negative feeling about government at all levels (Federal, State, and Local) also influences public opinion.
 Lack of innovation. County services are neither innovate nor smart. MC311 and government IT in general need improvements, too much licensed software is purchased, and there should be wi-fi and solid cellphone coverage all over the County.
 Transportation headaches. Drivers experience traffic congestion, poor road quality and frustration with speed cameras and transit users have insufficient options in certain locations.
Decaying infrastructure. Essential utilities, both public and private are aging or already outdated, such as water and sewer systems that are not being kept up for replacement. The modernization of neglected properties (e.g. Glenmont shopping center) needs to be prioritized.
 Issues at MCPS. County schools must contend with issues that people care deeply about such as class size, school boundaries, and the achievement gap.
 Increasing poverty. There are insufficient services and programs with the coverage to properly address poverty, while some feel the County spends too much on immigrants and those in need. People see more homeless and panhandlers, who could benefit from increased or more strategic workforce training.

 What strategies do we recommend to turn the curve? 

 1) Improve customer service through training of front-line staff, enhancements to 311 to better locate the right information, and overhaul of County websites.
Create positive customer service in phone and in-person interactions by not being dismissive when questions are asked by residents or businesses.
Improve 311 so the right information can be easily found.
To enable customers to get better answers, improve staffing and training and decentralize the intake process.
Should be able to directly reach County employees without having to call 311 first.  Should be able to be able to provide service requests directly to County employees.
Allow 311 Customer Service Representatives more discretion to transfer calls into the departments for unique requests.
Overhaul MC311 website to be more customer friendly and to make it easier to find information.
MC311 needs a mobile application for service requests.
Overhaul county websites - All County Government websites need to be more customer focused. The website should have large knowledge base and how-to videos. The site should have ability for Skype or online chat options for getting help.
 2) Increase accountability of County Government and require department directors to define success for customer satisfaction.
Need for more public accountability for outside agencies such as the Housing Opportunities Commission, Parks, and Planning
Department directors must be out in the public to get direct input and define success both publicly and to their employees. Directors must be held accountable to the set standards.
 3) Utilize process improvement methods to improve service delivery.  
Process improvement methods could improve customer service across the County Government
 4) Improve hiring systems and software to simplify the hiring process.
 5) Improve hiring process to be more equitable