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Summary 

The Dutch government has conducted consumer satisfaction surveys for many years.  Its eCitizen Charter, a body of quality requirements for government digital services, has been used as a model by other countries.  It has also used “customer journey mapping” and “trend documents” to gauge customer satisfaction with government services.

I. Overview 

In 1996, the Dutch government instituted its first citizen-centered initiative for a “one-stop-shop service delivery program,” known as OL2000 (Overheidsloket 2000/Public Counter 2000), promoting along with it the concept of “thinking and working from the citizen’s perspective.”[1]  In 2001, some twenty separate government reform programs were merged into a joint information and communications technology (ICT) organization in the public sector to deal with eGovernment.[2] 

In 2003, the eCitizen Program, conceived as “an independent forum which would look critically into [government reforms] from the citizen’s point of view,” was inaugurated “with the task of being a critical evaluator of eGovernment solutions.”[3]  It was succeeded in 2008 by Citizenlink, a Dutch government initiative to improve public performance through citizen involvement, with the tasks of promoting service quality through the adoption of an eCitizen Charter and quality codes; measuring customer satisfaction through an “Annual National Survey about Life Events”; and stimulating citizen involvement by such means as holding an annual eParticipation Award and developing eParticipation instruments.[4]

The eCitizen Charter or “BurgerServiceCode” is characterized as

a quality standard for eGovernment written from the citizen’s perspective.  It consists of 10 quality requirements for digital contacts, both in the field of information exchange, service delivery and policy participation.  The charter has been adopted as a quality standard on all levels of Dutch government and is also used as the basis for ongoing measurement of citizen satisfaction on the basis of life events.  Moreover it is the criterion for the annual eParticipation Awards.[5]

Furthermore, from 2008–2010, the government conducted a national survey to assess citizen satisfaction with government performance as a whole, with satisfaction “measured by asking citizens about real experiences with solving life events” and evaluation “based on the ten criteria of the eCitizen Charter.”[6] 

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II.  Form of Feedback Collection

A.    Major National Survey 2008–2010

The stated aim of the 2008–2010 survey that the Dutch government conducted to gauge citizens’ satisfaction with government services was to score at least a “seven” for the quality of services during that government’s term in office.[7]  The State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations focused “on the perceptions (questions or problems) of private citizens” to measure a baseline of satisfaction in spring 2008, “when people were asked about the services provided in connection with life events.”[8]

The design of the survey was to obtain feedback on “the services provided in connection with 55 life events, ranging from ‘having a child,’ ‘beginning a course,’ ‘starting a business,’ ‘long-term illness,’ ‘going abroad,’ ‘changing housing situation’ and ‘being fined’ to ‘death of a nearest and dearest,’ ” events that “had a high recognition factor for respondents, who were selected on the basis of actual experience of the various events.”[9]   Of more than 10,000 persons screened, there remained a final net sample of 1,400 survey participants; the results were “representative of Dutch residents who had contacts with government in connection with one of the life events during the past twelve months.”[10]  The questions were based on the contents of the eCitizen Charter, whose ten quality standards formed the basis for the statements.[11]

According to a 2011 study published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, some of the low-scoring life events measured through the Dutch government services questionnaire “are mapped with the Dutch equivalent of the customer journey mapping, the KEK,” which “is a tool for visualizing how customers interact with people and organisations in order to make a purchase or experience a service.”[12]  The KEK can help improve a given type of service “by finding out how people use the service and how they interact with the service provider.  It provides a map of the interactions and emotions that take place, and can help an organisation provide its customers with the experience it wants them to have.”[13]  As of the time the OECD study was written, three life events had been mapped and certain improvements had been made in the services related to those events.[14]

While acknowledging that systematic measurement of public-sector performance was still being developed at that time by such means as assessments and benchmarks, the 2011 study stated in connection with the Netherlands that “performance information is more and more integrated into systematic knowledge and trend development,” with one example being “the ‘trend document’ on developments in public sector organization and employment, which is submitted to parliament with the government budget each year.”[15]  The study also reported that “many larger public sector organisations” had begun to set up “knowledge units” for collecting “performance data about their organisations (including data on clients’ and employees’ satisfaction),” analyzing that data, and reporting on them, for use “by political officials, such as ministers, for strategic policy planning.”[16] 

B.     Specific Examples in Recent Years

Since 1970, the Dutch Electoral Research Foundation has conducted a series of national surveys referred to as the Dutch Parliamentary Election Studies, which might be considered in some respects a citizen satisfaction survey.  While a number of questions are replicated, each survey also has questions not posed in the other surveys.[17]  According to the Survey Data Netherlands website, “the major substantive areas consistently covered” in these election surveys “include the respondents’ attitudes toward and expectations of the government and its effectiveness in both domestic and foreign policy” and “the most important problems facing the people of the Netherlands,” among other topics.[18]

More concrete examples of customer satisfaction surveys are the 2012 survey of services in City Hall[19] and the 2015 survey of travel and vocational vaccinations.[20]  Business consumer satisfaction is also measured in the Netherlands.  Under the Business Sentiment Monitor initiative, the perception of businesses vis-à-vis regulatory burden reduction is measured annually, focusing “not only on the reduction of administrative burdens” but also addressing the “costs to comply with regulations, requirements of supervisory bodies, and the constantly changing rules.”[21]  The government’s aim is to increase by 25% the number of businesses claiming to “have very little irritation from unnecessary information obligations.”[22]

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Prepared by Wendy Zeldin
Senior Legal Research Analyst
October 2017


[1] Matt Poelmans, From Electronic Government to Collaborative Governance § 2.2, https://skl.se/download/ 18.2644e66d1572c650b953a693/1474545341702/Whitepaper%20and%20slideshow,%20Matt%20Poelmans.pdf (last visited Oct. 24, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/MP64-ZUFG.  For a comparative look at Dutch citizens’ satisfaction with certain government services compared to that of citizens of other countries, see, for example, Citizen Satisfaction with Public Services, in Government at a Glance 2015, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/4215081ec056.pdf? expires=1508785689&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=33326F52CDDA297D2E9977A10088B3FC, archived at https://perma.cc/UK4V-HXQ3.  

[2] Poelmans, supra note 1.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Citizens Charters in the Netherlands, Burgerlink.nl, available at http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/ documents/un-dpadm/unpan045396.pdf (last visited Oct. 23, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/MV95-5BPK.

[6] Id

[7] Poelmans, supra note 1, § 4.2.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Citizens Charters in the Netherlands, supra note 5, at 2–3.  At the time it was stated that “Citizenlink is working on developing the methodology further.  Also a variation of the instrument for local use will be developed.”  Id. at 3.

[12] Netherlands, in OECD, The Call for Innovative and Open Government: An Overview of Country Initiatives 185 (2011), http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/4211071ec024.pdf?expires=150 8861595&id=id&accname=ocid195520&checksum=6FC6D32C78AE840E88EFA5422F839B62, archived at https://perma.cc/9CPS-5DF9.  

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id. at 185.  A form used in 2011 for participation in a customer survey can be viewed on the Dutch government website.  Meldingsformulier Persoonsgegevens ‘Klantenenquête Participatie 2011’ [Personal Data Registration Form ‘Customer Survey Participation 2011’], https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/formulieren/2011/ 09/16/meldingsformulier-persoonsgegevens-szw, archived at https://perma.cc/LE32-4KEG.

[17] Dutch Parliamentary Election Studies, Survey Data Netherlands, https://www.surveydata.nl/dutch-parliamentary-election-studies (last visited Oct. 23, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/L8EM-77WK.

[18] Id.

[19] Enquête Dienstverlening in het stadhuis [Survey of Services in City Hall] (Feb. 2012), http://docplayer. nl/storage/25/4751629/1508860642/rCUPjVSo9XiNRlJcONcLjA/4751629.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/WJ58-8TRX.

[20] Reis- en beroepsvaccinatie. Klanttevredenheidsonderzoek 2015 [Travel and Vocational Vaccination. Customer Satisfaction Survey 2015], http://docplayer.nl/storage/36/17458056/1508860953/ 9UAbnWLY46K8KeEnJHvDaw/17458056.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/54DG-43CR.

[21] OECD, Better Service Delivery for Inclusive Growth in the Dominican Republic 138 (Box 3.6) (OECD Public Governance Reviews, June 1, 2017), http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/4216291e.pdf? expires=1508861918&id=id&accname=ocid195520&checksum=FE27B007CF42F33BBD9ABBE26D382208, archived at https://perma.cc/64F5-DHGS.

[22] Id.