2008 National Client Satisfaction Survey

Background

In 2001, Passport Canada (PPTC) launched an ongoing Client Satisfaction Measurement Program to support its objectives for service excellence. This research program provides PPTC with regular feedback from clients to evaluate previously implemented business improvement initiatives, and to support strategic planning. The 2008 National Client Satisfaction survey was designed to build on previous knowledge and to provide PPTC with a measurement of any changes in the satisfaction, perceptions and expectations of its clients. Data from this survey will assist in building a service model and help to prioritize the Agency's improvement efforts, to guide policy and planning initiatives, and to inform marketing strategies. The specific objectives of the 2008 client survey are as follows:

  • Measure client satisfaction with services offered in connection with obtaining a recent passport;
  • Assess trends in client priorities and satisfaction, based on tracking results from previous waves of the national survey where comparable measures are available;
  • Identify meaningful differences in opinions across relevant segments of the client population (e.g., by service channel, service type, type of application form used, demographics) and to identify changes over time; and
  • Conduct an in-depth analysis to uncover the drivers (levers) of client satisfaction, from which priority areas of improvement can be identified.

Since the previous client survey in 2007, a significant change to the passport application process was implemented. Previous holders of a passport who qualified could use a simplified renewal form and process, eliminating the need for a guarantor or the requirement to provide proof of citizenship. The 2008 survey marks the first time that client satisfaction with this process has been assessed.

The 2008 National Client Satisfaction Survey was based on telephone interviews with a repre­sen­ta­tive sample of 1,513 Canadians, 18 years and older, who received a new passport between September 2008 and December 2008. The interviews were conducted from January 22 to February 8, 2009. The sample was stratified to ensure adequate representation by region of residence and application delivery channel. A national sample of this size will provide results accurate to within plus or minus 2.4 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples (a larger margin of error will apply to subgroups of this population). A more detailed description of the methodology used to conduct this survey is presented at the back of this report, along with a copy of the questionnaire (see Appendix).

Key findings

The results of the 2008 survey indicate that Passport Canada has a substantial amount of good will with its clients, and that recent significant changes to the application process have met with considerable success in terms of client satisfaction. Service delivery has returned to normal levels following the influx of applications as Canadians began to comply with the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI); so too has level of client satisfaction with Passport Canada's service improved across the country and across service channels.

Satisfaction with the ease of submission of the passport and with the time and effort required to apply have both seen notable increases since 2007. Majorities of clients in all regions are now satisfied with their passport application experiences. Quebec residents continue to be among the most positive in their assessment of services. B.C. residents, who were the least satisfied in 2007, are now on equal footing with clients in the rest of the country.

Reported in-person wait times have decreased substantially since 2007. Now that the backlog has cleared, clients have also returned to their previous service expectations, citing shorter wait times as being acceptable than was the case in 2007. Higher proportions of clients report being very happy with the application form's availability, simplicity and clarity; those using the new renewal form are more likely to be satisfied with the form's simplicity and the time required to complete it than are users of the regular form. The vast majority of users of the new renewal process found it to be easier than their last application.

The research continues to show that the role of receiving agent offices in the passport application process is not well-known, and the strong identification with Passport Canada as the ultimate source of these documents means that a number of those who used a receiving agent still consider that their experience was with Passport Canada.

The following points summarize the key findings from the research:

Use of on-line services

  • Just over half of passport clients say they visited the Passport Canada website prior to submitting their application, a notable increase over 2007. Consistent with 2007, website visits are lowest among those over age 55, increase along with household income, and are highest among business travellers.
  • Just over half of website visitors claim to have used the Passport On-line feature to complete their application form, up from four in ten in 2007 and consistent with the reported increase in website visits. Considering the wide variety of reasons why someone might visit the website, this remains a significant proportion.

Access for the disabled

  • Only one percent of clients who are successful in obtaining a passport indicate they have a disability that made it difficult for them to access the Agency's services. This is largely reported to be a motor/mobility problem. The base of clients with a limiting disability is too small to reliably report any differences in their experiences or attitudes.

Application form and requirements

  • As in previous waves of this research, the vast majority of clients are satisfied with aspects of the application form itself, most notably its availability (96% satisfied). Strong majorities are also satisfied with the clarity of the form's instructions (92%), the time required to complete it (92%) and its simplicity (89%). Those using the new simplified renewal form are more likely to be very satisfied with the form's simplicity (44%, vs. 27% of those using the regular form); the clarity of instructions (45% vs. 33%); and the time required for form completion (40% vs. 26%).
  • Nine in ten clients (92%) are satisfied with the overall requirements to obtain a passport, up from eight in ten in 2007 and comparable to the highest level previously recorded (93% in 2005). Strong satisfaction with overall requirements is somewhat higher among users of the simplified renewal form (40%) than those using the regular application form (31%). Nine in ten clients are also satisfied with the information provided about where passport applications can be submitted.
  • As in 2007, almost all clients say that the need to provide two references is reasonable, and close to nine in ten (88%) think this about the photograph requirements. Among those who submitted a regular application form, 99 percent think that being asked to provide secondary ID is reasonable, and 95 percent say this of the guarantor eligibility standards. Among those who say they used the simplified renewal form, 89 percent think that returning one's old passport is reasonable, and three-quarters (76%) feel that the requirement to renew within 12 months of the expiry of the old passport is also reasonable.
  • Close to half of clients (47%) are satisfied with the base cost of the passport, up from four in ten (39%) in 2007. About one-quarter (28%) are neutral, and a similar proportion (24%) is dissatisfied, compared to 37 percent dissatisfied in 2007. Satisfaction has increased in the Territories, the Prairies and Ontario, reversing decreases in 2007. Six in ten (57%) of those who used the express or urgent-level of service are satisfied with the additional charges involved, which is comparable to 2007, and a similar proportion of those using Canada Post as a receiving agent (62%, up three percentage points) say they are satisfied with the convenience fee they paid.
  • Passport recipients who say they used the simplified renewal form feel it was either significantly (60%) or somewhat (27%) easier than their last application, and almost all (91%) report having had no problems related to surrendering their old passport. Most have no suggestions for improving the renewal process; the few that do are most likely to mention allowing renewals past the current one-year expiry period, or a longer validity period.

Submitting the passport application

  • There has been a notable increase in satisfaction along with ease of application submission (41% very satisfied, up 15 points) and with the time and effort required to obtain a passport (34% very satisfied, up 17). Improvements are observed among both regular and renewal form users, although the latter are more likely to be very satisfied with these aspects than the former. Satisfaction with time and effort has increased across the country and is now uniformly high in all regions.
  • Among clients who submitted their application in person, close to nine in ten (86%, up 8) are satisfied with the office's hours of operation, and eight in ten (81%, up 8) are satisfied with the convenience of the office location. Receiving agent users are more likely than Passport Canada office applicants to be very satisfied with location, but satisfaction with hours of operation is now uniform across the three in-person service channels.
  • The reported average wait time for those who submitted their application in person in 2008 is 24 minutes, down from 98 minutes in 2007, with the most substantial decrease being in the proportion who waited 20 minutes or more. Average wait time at Passport Canada offices is now comparable to waits at receiving agent offices. Regional gaps have lessened, although wait times are somewhat shorter in the Atlantic region (18 minutes on average) than in B.C. (28 minutes), Quebec (26 minutes) or the Prairies (25 minutes).
  • Nine in ten in-person applicants say their wait time was acceptable, the highest rate yet recorded. High rates of acceptability are seen across the three service channels. Nine in ten clients are satisfied with how the wait line was managed in the office where they applied for their passport, with a noticeable increase in those who are very satisfied (46%, up from 27% in 2007); strong satisfaction is now uniform across service channels.
  • Overall satisfaction with in-person staff has remained consistent during the tracking period, but there has been an increase since 2007 in the proportions stating they are very satisfied with all staff attributes. Staff courtesy (57%) and competence (55%) have seen the greatest increase in the proportions who are very satisfied. Close to eight in ten applicants have no suggestions for improvement of the in-person service experience.

Contact with Passport Canada

  • Fewer than one in ten (7%) of clients initiated contact with PPTC regarding their application, a slight decrease from 12 percent in 2007. Unlike previous years, having contacted PPTC is consistently low across service channels. Regular form users are somewhat more likely to have done so (10%) than renewal form users (3%).
  • Most (64%) who contacted Passport Canada during their application period did so directly by telephone, while smaller proportions called the 1-800 O-CANADA line (45%), sent an e-mail (16%) or contacted their M.P. (3%). Most say the contact was to clarify the application procedure or requirements, or to check the status of the application.
  • Overall satisfaction with ease of access to services by telephone has increased notably since 2007, with the gain entirely in strong satisfaction (38%, up 18 points). Dissatisfaction stems from not being able to reach a staff person. Suggestions for improvement are to add more staff and phone lines.
  • The average on-line wait time for telephone service has decreased substantially (10 minutes, vs. 21 minutes in 2007), and three-quarters (77%) now say their wait was acceptable (up 20 points). The small number who found their wait too long would have found an eight-minute wait acceptable.
  • There has been a decrease in strong satisfaction with telephone staff attributes since 2007, particularly in the case of understanding of client needs. However, overall satisfaction remains strong for all measures.
  • Five percent of clients recall being contacted by Passport Canada by telephone about their application, a proportion similar to 2007, and another six percent say they were contacted by mail. Contact is now similar across all service channels (it had previously been higher for mail applicants). The main reasons for PPTC-initiated contact are to verify, add or correct information. Nine in ten (89%) clients who were contacted by PPTC about their application were satisfied with the contact; satisfaction is comparable in all regions of the country.

Passport turnaround

  • The average turnaround time reported by clients for receiving a passport in 2008 returned to 16 days (as in 2006) from 27 days in 2007. Significant improvement in turnaround time is apparent across the country and over all service channels.
  • Almost all (96%) clients say the wait for their passport was acceptable. Over nine in ten clients whose passport took 20 or more days still found the wait to be acceptable. The average preferred wait time for those few who said their wait was unacceptable is 15 days.

Passport characteristics

  • Canadians remain highly satisfied with the passport as a travel document, with over eight in ten satisfied with its acceptance by other countries and the number of pages it contains, similar to 2007. While fewer are satisfied with the validity period of five years (68%), this has increased 12 points since 2007.

Overall service experience

  • Almost all clients (96%) are satisfied to some extent with the overall service experience with Passport Canada, an increase of seven points from 2007, and the proportion saying they are very satisfied is now at an all-time high (44%). Overall satisfaction is comparable across regions and across service channels.
  • In addition to satisfaction with the overall service experience, the survey asked about the importance of several key aspects of passport acquisition. Eight in ten (83%) clients say that the design of the passport to avoid forgery is very important, and three-quarters (77%) assign this level of importance to clarity of instructions. Around six in ten think that ease of access to in-person service, understanding of needs and turnaround time are very important. Somewhat lower priority is placed on wait times (52%), ease of access to telephone services (40%) and the cost of obtaining a passport (36%).
  • A more in-depth analysis reveals key “drivers” or factors influencing clients' overall service experience. In 2008, overall satisfaction is most strongly influenced by views about the application requirement. Specifically, the guarantor eligibility standards and the current photograph requirements are strong drivers of dissatisfaction and, for the minority unhappy with these requirements (the 4% who say the guarantor requirement is unreasonable, and 12% saying this of the photograph requirements), these have a substantial impact on opinions about overall service experience. Other factors around level of effort in obtaining a passport also play key roles in predicting satisfaction with the Passport Canada experience as a whole. Type of application form used has also become a predictor of overall satisfaction, for all applicants and for those applying in person.

Receiving agent awareness and preferences

  • Choice of service channel is mainly a question of perceived convenience. Passport Canada office users are the most likely to say this was the fastest way to get their passport.
  • Prompted client awareness of the Passport Canada in-person (98%) and mail (91%) submission channels are almost universal; six in ten are aware that Service Canada (58%) and some Canada Post locations (57%) can receive passport applications. However, unaided awareness of receiving agents options continues to be low (8% for Canada Post, 4% for Service Canada).
  • Two-thirds of clients who are aware of, but who did not use, a receiving agent for their current application gave no consideration to doing so. Those who did not use a receiving agent, or who did not even consider using one, believe that it is more convenient or faster to use other methods. However, over half (54%) of clients say they would definitely or likely consider using a receiving agent for their next passport application.

Differences by client segments

At the broadest level, the key findings outlined previously are applicable to clients across the country. The following highlights some notable differences, which in many cases are a matter of degree rather than a substantively different point of view:

Type of application form. Prior to 2008, all passport applications followed the same process; there was no actual “renewal” option for clients who held a passport previously. In 2008, clients who met certain criteria (described on page two of this report) qualified to use a simplified renewal form and did not need to seek out a guarantor.

Because the form is shorter and the process less demanding (no guarantor is required and secondary ID does not have to be provided), it can was expected that those using this new renewal method would have higher levels of satisfaction with related measures, such as the simplicity of the application form or the time required to complete it. Both form users are equally satisfied with the availability of forms, but renewal form users are more likely to be satisfied as a whole, and very satisfied specifically, with clarity of instructions, simplicity of the form, the time required to complete it, the total time and effort expended, and the overall requirements to obtain a passport. Net satisfaction is similar for users of both form types when it comes to instructions on where to submit the application and with the ease of submission, but renewal form users are more likely to be very satisfied with these aspects. There is no difference in awareness of receiving agent channels, but regular form users are slightly more likely to say they might use one for their next application.

Users of both types of forms have similar reactions to the reasonableness of the reference and photo­graph requirements. They also have comparable levels of satisfaction with in-person aspects such as the convenience of the location, in-office wait times and wait line management, and also with attributes of the in-person staff. There is no difference in the average turnaround time for receiving the passport, or in the perception that the wait was acceptable. Regular form users are the most likely to be satisfied with the base cost of the passport.

Users of the regular form are more likely than renewal form applicants to have attempted to contact PPTC, or to have been contacted by them. This could be expected, due to the additional require­ments of the regular application process. Finally, and significantly, there is not a significant dif­ference in global satisfaction with Passport Canada services between the two application form types.

Region. As in previous waves of this research, there are some notable differences in client experiences and ratings across regions, which reflect both the types of service available and the characteristics of clients in those regions. However, thanks to notable improvements in service delivery, it is no longer the case that Western clients are significantly less satisfied with most aspects than their Eastern counterparts. Regional variations, while still evident for certain measures, are generally much less dramatic than observed in 2007.

In 2007, B.C. residents experienced major increases in in-office wait times and in total passport turnaround time, and registered the greatest decreases in strong satisfaction as a result. In 2008 this situation has reversed and B.C. clients are as likely as residents of other regions to be satisfied with most aspects of the passport service experience, although they are less likely to be very satisfied than some. For example, they are just as likely to be satisfied to some degree with the overall service the received from Passport Canada (95%), but are the least likely to be very satisfied (36%). The average in-office wait time for B.C. clients remains higher than for other regions (28 minutes), but is a fraction of what it was in 2007. B.C. clients are the least likely to be satisfied with wait line management as a result. However, their passport turnaround time and satisfaction with the wait is now comparable to other regions. B.C. applicants are less likely than others to be satisfied with the base cost of the passport.

Quebec residents continue to be the most likely to be very satisfied with many aspects of the passport acquisition experience, including the clarity, availability and simplicity of the application form, the time and effort to apply, and the overall requirements. They are marginally less likely to think that either the photograph or reference requirements are reasonable; still, support for these is very high, and this is also the region where residents are most likely to say the new renewal process was significantly easier. They are the most likely to be very satisfied with the office location and hours; the staff's competence, understanding of needs and the quality of their answers; and with the availability of service in their official language.

As was the case with B.C., clients in the Prairie provinces were more likely to be dissatisfied in 2007, but this situation has also reversed in 2008, and now their level of satisfaction is comparable to other regions. Renewal applicants there are the most likely to think the 12-month timeframe for renewals is reasonable. They are marginally less satisfied with the convenience of office locations, and are among the most likely to have been contacted by PPTC.

Ontario, as the most populous region, generally sets the standard for satisfaction for the rest of the country, and so does not normally stand out. Ontarians did enjoy the shortest passport turnaround time (13 days), but are somewhat less likely to think the 12-month cut-off for renewals is reasonable.

The Territories have the highest proportions of clients who apply by mail or via Service Canada, and thus differs from other regions in the nature of their passport experience. Nevertheless, their satisfaction ratings are similar to others and slightly higher in some cases. Although their average passport turnaround time is longest (26 days), they are just as likely to see this as acceptable, and their level of global satisfaction is comparable to their neighbours to the south.

Atlantic Canadians report the shortest in-office average wait time, and therefore are the most likely to say the wait was acceptable. They are among the most likely to be very satisfied with the staff's competence, understanding of needs and the quality of their answers, as well as being satisfied with access to service in their official language. Along with Prairies, residents they are slightly more likely to have been contacted by PPTC about their application, but their reported turnaround time for obtaining their passport meets the national average of 18 days.

Age. Younger Canadians aged 18 to 34 are the most likely to indicate the most recent passport application was their first, and this decreases with age. As type of application form used is related to repeat applications, younger Canadians are also the most likely to have used the regular form. This is consistent with older Canadians being more likely than younger ones to be very satisfied with the clarity of instructions, the form's simplicity, the ease of submission, and the total time and effort involved. Canadians aged 55 and under are more likely to report visiting the PPTC website prior to their application than are those aged 56 and over.

There are no significant age differences in thinking that the specific requirements are reasonable (i.e., provision of two references, guarantor eligibility or photograph standards). Canadians aged 56 and over who used the renewal form are more likely than those 18 to 35 to say returning one's old passport is reasonable, but are not more likely to think the renewal process was easier. Similarly, strong global satisfaction with Passport Canada also increases with age.

As in past years, strong satisfaction with aspects of in-person service increases along with age: convenience of office location, office hours, wait time and line management. This is also the case with satisfaction with staff attributes, such as competence, courtesy, understanding of needs and quality of answers. There is no significant age difference in reported passport turnaround time or acceptability of the wait to obtain their document.

Other characteristics. The analysis examined how services experience varies across the client population by such factors as gender, household income, mother tongue, immigrant status and length of time in Canada, primary type of travel, if the passport obtained was the applicant's first and if it was obtained to comply with the new U.S. regulations. Some differences do in fact emerge within these groups and are identified in this report, but not in a systematic way that would lead to firm conclusions about these characteristics as important factors that shape the service experience.