Customer survey results

About the survey

Good customer service helps us develop innovative partnerships with our customers to sustain healthy land, air, and water in harmony with a strong economy. Asking our customers for feedback helps us learn how we can improve. To ensure the process and results are unbiased, we contract with a statistics service to conduct the survey.

Customer survey results

As part of our core services, we issue environmental permits to individuals, businesses, and corporations. We also inspect and visit businesses required to comply with Washington’s environmental laws and rules.

Since 2002, we have conducted biennial surveys to permitted and inspected customers to ask for feedback about their experience with our services and interaction with our staff including:

  • Satisfaction with customer service
  • Staff knowledge and helpfulness
  • Clarity and timeliness of the processes and requirements
  • Ease of use of required forms and paperwork, and online resources

We use the survey results to identify actions to improve our processes and customer service. We’ve learned that our webpages and permit application instructions needed improving. In response, we improved our website, and now provide help for permittees via video and webinars. We've also learned that sending notices and checklists to facilities helps them prepare for inspections. 

See our previous full survey reports since 2002. Starting in 2019, we are using interactive data dashboards to report our results (see above).

What is the Regulated Customer Survey?

The Regulated Customer Survey is a tool we use to measure customer service and satisfaction. Conducted biennially, the tool surveys our regulated customers to solicit feedback on their interactions with Ecology employees. To ensure that the process and results are statistically valid, Ecology contracts with a statistics service to conduct the survey.

How long has Ecology been surveying customers?

Ecology has surveyed its customers biennially since 2002. Between 2002 and 2008, we surveyed only permit applicants. In 2010, we added inspected businesses to the survey. We now survey over 40 groups of regulated customers!

Who are the customers that you survey?

Regulated customers are those customers we serve who have a law or regulation that applies to them that Ecology is responsible for enforcing.

Why measure customer satisfaction?

Good customer service helps develop innovative partnerships with our customers to sustain healthy land, air, and water in harmony with a strong economy.

Who conducts the survey and how is it conducted?

From 2002 to 2014, we contracted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to perform surveys. Starting in 2016, we have contracted with Washington State University's Social and Economic Sciences Research Center.

What types of questions do you ask?

We ask both quantitative and qualitative questions. Many survey questions make a statement about Ecology performance and asks the respondents to tell us how much they agree or disagree. Questions focus on Ecology staff, timeliness in responding to requests, and the regulatory process the customer went through. In addition, the survey gives respondents a place to respond to open-ended questions about Ecology performance.

Is the same survey used every two years?

We review the questions before each survey round and add or revise questions. However, to track trends and keep the length of the survey manageable, we often retain many of the same questions.

How long is the survey?

The survey was typically completed in five to 20 minutes.

Do you survey customers with unfavorable regulatory outcomes?

Yes, historically about one in six inspected businesses who respond to the survey were issued an enforcement notice, order, or penalty by Ecology.

How does Ecology use the results?

In response to the feedback we receive, our leadership and employees identify actions to improve our processes and customer service. Examples of action items include improving webpage usability, creating webinars and online videos on the permitting process, and sending notices and checklists to facilities prior to selected inspections.

Have you seen improvements over time?

Since 2002, Ecology has improved on nearly every metric measured. For example, in 2002 only 74 percent of customers thought we worked to build a cooperative relationship; almost twenty years later, now 88 percent think so. Further, in 2010, 93 percent of inspected customers thought the inspector informed them on why their business received an inspection; now, 97 percent think so. While we still have room for improvement, we are proud of the progress we have made.