Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Staff Survey

Each year we do a survey of student satisfaction of all professional services, run centrally, whereas staff surveys are the responsibility of the individual departments. We last ran a complete survey of all staff on all of our services 4 years ago, although we regularly carry out mini surveys of individual services, so we decided it was time to do it again.

We emailed all 6666 staff (what a strange number – does it have significance I wonder) and got a 42% response rate, which on examination turns out to be fairly representative of different staff groups and of different faculties. A high response rate can mean one of a number of things – perhaps everyone loves us so much they want to tell us about it, or maybe the exact opposite….

So, it was with some trepidation we attended a presentation of the results last week. As usual the survey had been carried out and analysed externally by the Oxford Research Agency and was presented in a very professional manner – even bad scores are broken to us gently and criticisms made constructively. I don’t want to say too much about the actual results as I haven’t yet presented them to the department – that will happen at a departmental meeting in a couple of weeks. But, like many things – it was a mixed bag.

Some services have a very high satisfaction rating, some not so. Some of the poorer scores we were expecting and are already working on – some were much more unexpected and will take some analysing to work out why and what if anything we can do about them. At every stage in the survey staff have a free text box where they can make comments to explain their scores – and boy, do they!! Most are very helpful, and some are just funny. I remember in the last survey a suggestion that the developer who had written a particular system should be taken out and shot - needless to say they still work for us. In this one, it was suggested that the person who had been responsible for deciding to implement a particular system was "clueless, absolutely clueless". That would be me then!

Many of the criticisms are about the user interfaces into systems, and the unfriendly nature of them. We’ve been spotting this trend from students for some time and now unsurprisingly staff are saying the same thing. We really have to concentrate not just on how functional our systems are but what they look like. Of course, this is not always under our control but we need to weight this very heavily when evaluating systems, and put pressure on suppliers to improve their user interfaces.

What always does surprise me are the amount of comments saying wouldn’t it be good if we could do this, or this service would be so much better if it did that – when it does, they just don’t know how. We’ve invested so much in communication over the last few years, but getting out exactly how best to use each service is still difficult.

We’ll be looking carefully at the results – I suspect we may have to reprioritise some of our current projects to concentrate on those areas where staff clearly are unhappy.

I’ve only very quickly scanned all of the free text comments but it’s nice to see so many positive ones – especially about staff and how helpful and friendly they are - well done folks. Although I do wonder if some of the positive comments might just have been put there by our own staff...

"The ** technicians are the best thing since sliced bread ! So helpful, pleasant and handsome too !! The best dept in the University. Brilliant. Give them all a promotion."

Nice try :-)


Chris Barran said...

Talking of customer experience maybe we can learn some lessons from Apple.

Peter said...

Apple? how about Google?