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Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.
The Team Canada Inc (TCI) 1-888 Export Information Service is accessible to all Canadian business people via the network of Canada Business Service Centres (CBSCs). A toll-free number links information seekers to trained information officers who either answer questions or refer the call to the export service provider best positioned to meet their needs. Team Canada Inc answered 15,353 calls in 2002-2003.
TCI commissioned client satisfaction studies in 2000, two years after the initiation of the service, in 2002 and again now, in 2004. In 2000 and 2002, clients and federal service delivery partners were surveyed. In 2004, end customers were approached as well as TCI partners (i.e., organizations outside of the federal government which share an interest in increasing Canadian exports, and which provide trade services to Canadian businesses; these partner organizations can include Economic Development Offices, Community Futures Development Corporations, Regional Development Agencies and educational institutions).
This study reflects the customer's point of view. When accessing TCI's service, customers engage in a service transaction which includes (in their perception) downstream service offered by organizations they are referred to. This perspective may differ with how TCI sees its service offering within the framework of its organizational realities.
This research was based on a telephone survey of customers and a Web-based consultation of TCI partners.
It included feedback from a sample of 158 customers recruited by service agents between August 1, 2004 and October 31, 2004. In the absence of comparable population figures, no data weighting was applied. Telephone data collection was managed by Écho Sondage inc. and produced an overall response rate of 57% after the recruiting phase. The maximum sampling error is estimated at ±7.8 percentage points based on the entire sample; sampling errors are wider for sub-groups but narrower for proportions smaller and larger than 50%.
The 2002 questionnaire was re-used in 2004 with only minor changes. The 2002 version was designed by crossbreeding the questionnaire from the TCI study conducted in 2000 with the Common Measurement Tool — the de facto standard for federal departments and agencies.
In addition to customer interviews, Web-based questionnaires were completed by 24 individuals representing TCI partners, among some 130 invited to the consultation. The questionnaire focused on the reasons for decreasing use of the toll-free TCI service.
Overall, results were very positive, with 85% of customers expressing satisfaction with their most recent contact with the TCI export information service. Customers were particularly pleased with:
Moreover, 84% of customers stated that the service met or exceeded their expectations and 90% stated that they would use the export information service again if they required export-related information. More than eight out of ten customers stated that TCI's service increased the likelihood that they would seek additional information, made them more knowledgeable about exporting and made them aware of information sources.
The 2004 study also suggests that callers are smaller companies of more recent formation with less export experience, compared with 2002 callers. The performance measure of 2004 indicates that satisfaction was higher in 2004 compared with 2002, in every aspect of service, but particularly with regard to the following:
With much higher client satisfaction in 2004 than in 2002 and in 2000, the next challenge that the TCI telephone service faces is the decreasing levels of demand for the service.
Few TCI partners indicated making references to the information line (4 of 16). The main reasons for not making references was client inexperience at exporting or their lack of interest in exporting — hence, lack of need for information. TCI partners also stated that clients prefer to search for information on Web sites and in published documents than to call a service line (20 out of 24).
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