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Journal number 2 ∘ Lina Pilelienė
Theoretical Insights into Citizen Satisfaction: Measurement and the Model

As a branch of consumer satisfaction, theoretical aspects of citizen satisfaction are being discussed in the article. The aim of the study is to determine the factors possibly having impact on citizen satisfaction. Reviewing previous attempts of citizen satisfaction measurement, eleven factors were considered as determinants: Urbanity and diversity; Nature and recreation; Infrastructure of the city (a. Pedestrian environment; b. Street layout); Job opportunities in the city; Cost-efficiency of living; Neighborhood of the citizen; Determinants of subjective well-being perceived by the citizen; Parenting / Education possibilities; Public transport services; Necessary services; and Dwelling type of the citizen. Moreover, two levels of outcomes were identified: 1) Attachment to the city; Attitude towards the city; and Subjective well-being; leading to 2) Intention to leave (stay in) the city and Word-of-mouth. The determined factors were aggregated into a model of Citizen Satisfaction Index, which can be adapted by local municipalities to improve their performance.

Keywords: Marketing, satisfaction, index, customer factor.

JEL Codes: D18, M30, M31, M37

Introduction

In recent years, place marketing is gaining scholars’ and practitioners’ attention. Such places as countries, cities, or other kinds of tourist destinations are competing to gain a favorable position in consumer’s mind. On the other hand, contemporary consumers are highly informed, have seen and heard a lot, and it becomes harder to impress them. In order to provide consumers with better propositions resulting in positive evaluations, consumer satisfaction is being assessed.

Customer satisfaction is a multidimensional construct: many factors contribute to form it (Davis M. M., Heineke J. 1998). Therefore, in order to measure satisfaction, the factors that might contribute to it are aggregated into an index. Satisfaction indices can be classified into two main areas: based on the object and based on the subject. Also, combinations of both are popular. As examples of object-based satisfaction indices can be named index of customer satisfaction with supermarkets [Pilelienė L., Grigaliūnaitė V. 2013]; index of customer satisfaction with public transport services [Mouwen A. 2015, Shaaban Kh., Khalil R. F. 2013]; index of customer satisfaction with catering services etc. (Shaaban Kh., Khalil R. F. 2013,  Grigaliūnaitė V., Pilelienė L. 2013). As it can be seen, customer satisfaction is being measured in relation to a different object. Depending on an object of satisfaction, different factors possibly having an impact might be assessed. However, universal customer satisfaction questionnaires (using the same variables irrespectively of industry or business) are also often used [Fečiková I. 2004,]. The other category of satisfaction indices is subject-based. In this category most popular indices are: tourist satisfaction index [ Krešic D., Prebežac D. 2011,  Song H., van der Veen R., Li G., Chen J. L. 2011, Pilelienė L., Grigaliūnaitė V.2013.]; patient satisfaction index [Al-Abri R., Al-Balushi A. 2014]; shopper satisfaction index; employee satisfaction index [Hsu Sh.-H., Wang Y.-Ch.2008]; etc. As examples of combined satisfaction indices, we can provide example of the index of Tourist satisfaction with European summer holiday destinations. In this case, both the object and the subject of satisfaction are present. Such combined indices are highly adapted to a situation, circumstances; therefore, they clearly provide information about the issue.

Despite the abundance of satisfaction measurement evidence found in scientific literature, there are still areas where research is scarce. One of such areas is citizen satisfaction. Citizens are the powerful stakeholders in a framework of tourism marketing, place marketing, and also consumer marketing. However, marketing strategies often ignore latter segment, considering it as having no impact on the outcomes of marketing efforts. Therefore, the manuscript contributes to a literature of both areas (i.e. marketing and tourism) by solving a scientific problem: what factors affect citizen satisfaction? The goal of this conceptual study is to determine the factors possibly having impact on citizen satisfaction. Four objectives were set to reach the goal:

  1. To analyze theoretical insights on customer satisfaction;
  2. To reveal citizen satisfaction in a framework of place marketing;
  3. To determine the structure of citizen satisfaction index;
  4. To compose the model for Citizen Satisfaction Index.

To reach the aim of the manuscript, the theoretical research is provided. The article is organized as follows: firstly, theoretical insights on customer satisfaction as a phenomenon are provided; secondly, citizen satisfaction in a framework of place marketing is discussed; thirdly, existing citizen satisfaction-related literature is analyzed and generalized and core determinants (antecedents) and outcomes of citizen satisfaction are established. Finally, the determined factors are aggregated into a model representing Citizen Satisfaction Index and suitable for its assessment. The manuscript ends with conclusions.

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a result of perception of conformity with a desired level of product or service [Davis M. M., Heineke J. 1998]: when performance is greater or equal in comparison to expectations, satisfaction occurs. Otherwise (when the result is lower than expected) consumer dissatisfaction is obtained. Satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) is expressed as an emotional response and an outcome of marketing activities, and can affect every stage of consumer buying behavior [Famiyeh S., Asante-Darko D., Kwarteng A. 2018]. Customer satisfaction is often analyzed in relation to other marketing phenomena, i.e. customer expectations [Ali R., Leifu G., Yasirrafiq M., Hassan M. 2015], service quality [Minh N.H., Ha N.T., Anh P.C. and Matsui Y.2017], perceived value [Aulia S. A., Sukati I., Sulaiman Z. 2016, Demirgüneş B. K. 2015], customer buying process [Negricea C., Edu T. 2016], customer loyalty [Yang Zh., Peterson R. T.], willingness to pay more [Demirgüneş B. K.2015].

Considering traditional customer satisfaction index models (American Customer Satisfaction Index – ACSI and European Customer Satisfaction Index – ECSI), customer satisfaction is often affected by Company’s image (only in ECSI), Customer expectations, Perceived quality, and Perceived value [Johnson M. D., Gustafsson A., Andreassen T. W., Lervik, L., Cha, J. 2001,  Cassel C., Eklöf J. A. 2001]. Therefore, it can be argued that analysis of relations between customer satisfaction and some other variable from the model can be considered as fragmentary research.

To obtain a wider picture, the antecedents and consequences of customer satisfaction have to be discussed. Customer expectations is a variable defining what customer predicts he/she will get from the company. Information of customer expectation is important because this factor influences the customer behavior. It can be argued that higher expectations elevate the standard for quality; therefore, if company fulfills the expectations satisfaction rises. Customer perceived value is the result of product benefits important to customer; therefore, to obtain satisfaction it is necessary to determine those benefits. Also, customer value can be classified into product-related, social-related, and personal-related. Moreover, perceived value results from perceived quality. In a framework of customer satisfaction, quality is considered as the main factor to make customers satisfied [Monther W., Mahadevan A. 2019]. The most popular and worldwide used by academics and practitioners scale for perceived quality measurement is SERVQUAL, which measures quality through five distinct dimensions namely Tangible, Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance, and Empathy.

On the other side of customer satisfaction research its outcomes can be found. Traditionally, two core outcomes are assessed: loyalty and complaints [22, 23]. Other widely analyzed outcomes as purchase intentions, willingness to recommend, or willingness to pay more can be called as derivative.

Considering theoretical and practical insights into customer satisfaction, it can be argued that customer satisfaction is necessary to ensure successful outcomes of marketing activity. However, to maintain satisfaction company has to know and understand its consumer.

Citizen satisfaction in a framework of place marketing

Marketing has become an important driving force in urban development [Eshuis J., Klijn E.-H., Braun E. 2014]. City marketing is a long-term process aiming to attract and retain the three major target groups of a city: tourists, citizens and enterprises [Goovaerts P., Van Biesbroeck H., Van Tilt T. 2014]. The three groups can be divided into regular consumers (tourists and citizens) and business consumers (enterprises). As marketing to businesses is a very specific scope, this article is focusing on the area of consumer marketing. In this framework, scholarly research regarding tourist attraction and retention is widely developed; however, the research regarding citizen satisfaction is still scarce [Zenker S., Rütter N. 2014].

At community level place marketing is often used to improve the image of revitalization and restructuring areas. However, in scientific literature place marketing is mainly focusing on promotional aspects, while its core aim has to be consumer need and want satisfaction [Zenker S., Petersen S., Aholt A. 2013]. Only recently, achieving to engage in city marketing, city governments and scholars started asking the questions like: Which is the best place to live? What are the best features that interest one to select a place? Which is the best place for parenting? [Nigro H. O., González Císaro S. E. 2016]. Asking latter questions implies that citizens are being considered as consumers of the city. Moreover, answering latter questions makes it easier to compare cities. Consequently, scholars have become interested in explaining citizen satisfaction and studying the consequences of high or low satisfaction [Van de Walle S. 2018]. An assumption can be made, that considering citizens as consumers their satisfaction can also be expressed and measured by an index. However, considering the diversity of satisfaction indices it can be argued that the index of citizen satisfaction has to be specific, including city life-related factors. 

Structure of citizen satisfaction index

Citizen satisfaction index as a tool for citizen satisfaction measurement is not widely applied in marketing research. Up to date, only several studies can be found in scientific literature; e.g.: Zenker, Peterson and Aholt applied the index to measure satisfaction in a framework of German citizens; Nigro and González Císaro adapted the same index to cities of Argentina. Therefore, an assumption can be made that the index of citizen satisfaction needs further studies and empirical substantiations to be applied worldwide.

As was indicated by previous studies on consumer satisfaction, satisfaction can be described by a set of its antecedents (depending mainly on the object and subject of satisfaction) and consequences (in most cases subjects’ loyalty).

Antecedents of citizen satisfaction

Several studies on citizen satisfaction suggested using different antecedents if compared with regular consumer satisfaction. Such suggestion can be easily explained by a specifics of an object: city is a complex product composed of a set of different features, functions, and services provided. Moreover, the benefits of a city have also multidimensional nature depending on the subject. Therefore, the existing studies on citizen satisfaction are diverse.

A study of citizen satisfaction regarding Candon City in Philippines suggests measuring citizen satisfaction with four service areas: Health Service, Basic Education Service, Social Welfare Service, and Governance and Response [Bueno Ch. F. 2013]. All the defined service areas are proposed to be evaluated by 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 – ‘Definitely Dissatisfied’ to 5 – ‘Definitely Satisfied’. As it can be seen, author suggests evaluating citizen satisfaction with services themselves without application of SERVQUAL-based service quality assessment.

Another study provided in Santiago, Philippines suggest assessing the performance of the City government in eight service delivery areas [Carinugan J. T., Reario R. A., Lim M. E., Anog M. E. 2015]. Four areas are the same as in case of Candon City: Health Programs and Services, Basic Education Programs and Services, Social Welfare Services, Governance and Response Services; and four areas newly added: Public Works and Infrastructure Services, Environmental Management Services, Agricultural Support Services, and Tourism Promotion Services. Moreover, latter study suggested measuring city performance in suggested service areas by assessing levels of: (a) Citizens’ Awareness; (b) Citizens’ Use of Services; (c) Citizens’ Needs for Services (perceived importance); and (d) Recommendations for Improving Services. As a contradiction for measuring satisfaction with services as indicators of general citizen satisfaction it can be argued that even when service performance is high, citizen satisfaction increases significantly slower than expected because the high level of service performance is not considered special [Noda Y. 2014].

The study provided in Japan considered citizen satisfaction as a variable depending on citizen’s knowledge and demographic characteristics such as gender, income, and age. Also, satisfaction was considered as a result of Performance minus Expectations (PME) regarding particular services provided in a city. In this case, the set of services was combined of: police services; road maintenance and improvement services, waste collection services. In a framework of analysis of city strategies implemented by Visegrad group countries, such services as health care; sport facilities; cultural facilities; police services; and public administration / local government services to residents might be added [Kopackova H.].

The examples from Philippines and Japan suggest that citizen satisfaction is a result of satisfaction with public services provided in the city. However, it can be argued that city-life is related not only to services obtained. The study provided in Germany uses four determinants of citizen satisfaction, described by 21 attributes or items in the questionnaire: Urbanity and Diversity (7 items); Nature and Recreation (7 items); Job Opportunities (4 items); Cost-efficiency (3 items). Two questions containing all the 21 items were asked during the survey: “How satisfied are you with the following city attribute in the city you live in” and “How important is the following city attribute for your place satisfaction and your choice of a place to live at”. To assess respondent evaluations 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (‘‘not at all’’) to 5 (‘‘fully’’) was applied. Having valuations of importance and performance enables distinguishing the core attributes to be managed; also, such two-dimensional evaluation enables allocating the budget in a way supporting undermanaged attributes and to avoiding funding unnecessary attributes. However, Noda suggests using the measure of PME (performance minus expectations) instead of importance-performance relation. The same customer satisfaction index  was further developed in a framework of Argentina. To adapt the index to a situation of Argentina’s culture, a variable “environment perception as a facilitator of parenting” was added. To complement the variable ‘parenting’, education-related items can be added. In educational context, it is suggested to assess proximity to schools/ kindergartens; availability of children’s playgrounds/ options for play [Kährik A., Leetmaa K., Tammaru T. 2012]; proximity to high schools [Yin J., Cao X. (J.), Huang X., Cao X.]; and after-school training possibilities [Kopackova H.].

Assessing the determinants of satisfaction with urban livability in China, six determinants were established: urban security (crime rate, traffic safety, emergency shelters); convenience of public facilities (shopping, education, healthcare, culture, entertainments, etc.); environmental amenity (favorable climate, access to parks and water areas, a green urban environment, cleanliness, environmental pollution); convenient transportation (road conditions, access to public transit, availability of parking lots, traffic congestion); sociocultural environment (high-quality citizens, social inclusion, urban identity, protection of historical culture, a sense of belonging); and individual socioeconomic attributes (gender, age, education, income, and home ownership) [Zhan D., Kwan M.-P., Zhang W., Fan J., Yu J., Dang Y. 2018]; also, the effect of dwelling type on residential satisfaction was reported in Australian context [Abass Z. I., Tucker R.]. Another research in a field of city marketing suggests eight citizen-related policy domains: recreation, housing, education, employment, infrastructure / neatness, transport, security, and social and medical services.

Several researches can be found in scientific literature reporting the effect of city infrastructure on citizen satisfaction. A research provided in a field of urban forests and green spaces [Krajter Ostoić S., Konijnendijk van den Bosch, C. C., Vuletić, D., Stevanov, M., … 2019] enables dividing infrastructure of a city into pedestrian environment and street layout. Pedestrian environment can be characterized by such factors as illumination, benches, waste bins, bicycle paths, also side-walks and “verge” can be added [38]; whereas street layout encompass connectivity / access, car parking possibilities, also, road infrastructure and traffic flow-through. Analyzing subjective well-being, Mouratidis [Mouratidis K.] emphasizes the impact of neighborhood-related items on citizen satisfaction; such factors like distance to city center, neighborhood density, perceived safety, cleanliness and noisiness, also, overall image of neighborhood, proximity to closest shop, distance to job [35] and neighborhood connectivity [38] were found to affect quality of citizens’ life. Therefore, as connectivity-related issues are considered as important for citizen satisfaction, public transport services have to be mentioned. Such factors as good access to public transport, its performance (schedules, speed, variety, routes) and quality of public vehicles (tidiness, seating capacity, ease of boarding, equipment) [3] might have an impact in this framework.

Finally, citizen satisfaction is determined by the factors affecting one’s subjective wellbeing: personal relationships; leisure activities; health; and emotional wellbeing [40]. 

Outcomes of citizen satisfaction

Further developing the research on citizen satisfaction index, Zenker and Rütter propose extending its outcomes by adding place attachment, the attitude towards a place, and positive citizenship behavior. Bueno also suggests calculating citizens’ awareness and availment scores (with possible answers ‘Yes’ (coded as 1) and ‘No’ (coded as -1). Also, authors suggested measuring place attachment by the intention to leave the city. Assuming that individual’s satisfaction with his / her home and living environment, also a perception of subjective well-being has to be concerned as an outcome [Mouratidis K.].

Citizen satisfaction index model

The analysis of scientific literature enabled determining the structure of citizen satisfaction index model. Eleven groups of determinants can be distinguished: 1) Urbanity and diversity in the city; 2) Nature and recreation / public space provision; 3) Infrastructure of the city (a. Pedestrian environment; b. Street layout); 4) Job opportunities in the city; 5) Cost-efficiency of living in the city; 6) Neighborhood of the citizen; 7) Determinants of subjective well-being perceived by the citizen; 8) Parenting / Education possibilities; 9) Public transport services;    10) Necessary services; and 11) Dwelling type of the citizen.

In a framework of citizen satisfaction, two levels of outcomes were identified: 1) Attachment to the city; Attitude towards the city; and Subjective well-being; leading to 2) Intention to leave (stay in) the city and Word-of-mouth (see Fig. 1).

Citizen Satisfaction Index Model

Figure 1

The suggested model represents the structural parts and relations of Citizen Satisfaction Index. As the model is based on the ideas collected from different previous researches, its practical verification in a framework of different countries and cultures might change the structure. The model enables defining drawbacks in city governance as well as points the areas for improvement.

Conclusions

In contemporary overcrowded market, customers are facing information overload, abundance of business offering, ubiquitous marketing communication. On the other hand, the organizations are facing consumer detachment, insensibility to advertising campaigns, and resistance to promotions. The relationship orientation becomes necessary to organizations not only in order to attract and retain their customers. It becomes a mandatory approach for a company to survive.

The pivotal point of relationship orientation is customer. Contemporary customers face a wide choice opportunities; therefore, they will choose the one best correspondent to their needs and wants, and manifested through expectations. If the performance of the acquired offering meets or exceeds the expectations, satisfaction will occur. Moreover, the obtained satisfaction is a condition that guides consumers to repeat their experience, or at least to refer about it in their social surroundings. In other word, satisfaction is an antecedent of loyalty, ether behavioral or attitudinal.

Satisfaction is a ratio of result conformity with expectations; however, it might be determined by a number of other related factors. Such factors often include perceived quality and perceived value. Therefore, to assess consumer satisfaction as a multidimensional construct, satisfaction indices are applied. A structure of a satisfaction index is mainly determined based on the object, on the subject, or on the combination of both. The most worldwide applied indices are European customer satisfaction index, American customer satisfaction index, Tourist satisfaction index, Employee satisfaction index, etc. Each of these indices can be characterized by having own composition and structural relations.

Despite the abundance of satisfaction indices, scientific research in the area of citizen satisfaction is scarce. However, it can be presumed that in this context an index would be different and characterized by own structure of determinants. Several attempts to measure citizen satisfaction included different factors; therefore, a lack of a background for a common worldwide practice is still evident. Up-to-date, several factors were established: Urbanity and diversity; Nature and recreation; Infrastructure of the city (a. Pedestrian environment; b. Street layout); Job opportunities in the city; Cost-efficiency of living; Neighborhood of the citizen; Determinants of subjective well-being perceived by the citizen; Parenting / Education possibilities; Public transport services; Necessary services; and Dwelling type of the citizen. After the scientific analysis, two levels of outcomes of citizen satisfaction were identified: 1) Attachment to the city; Attitude towards the city; and Subjective well-being; leading to 2) Intention to leave (stay in) the city and Word-of-mouth. Combining all the determined antecedents and outcomes into a single index of citizen satisfaction led to creation of the model representing it.

References:

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