OBFS Customer Satisfaction Initiative Underway
by Bryan Dobkin, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Office of Business and Financial Services has begun the first stage of the Customer Satisfaction Initiative with a series of focus groups being held at all three campuses and the UI College of Medicine at Rockford and Peoria. The purpose of these focus groups is to identify key themes in perceptions around needed service improvements and customer service best practices.
The Customer Satisfaction Initiative is designed to help OBFS better understand and serve its customers. To support the University-wide strategic planning process, Doug Beckmann, senior associate vice president for business and finance, and his SAVP Advisory Council support the creation of ongoing customer feedback mechanisms and have adopted "continually improving customer satisfaction" as one of OBFS' strategic themes.
OBFS partnered with Research Survey Services, a Champaign-Urbana research marketing firm, for the focus group portion of this initiative. RSS is conducting the actual focus groups as well as providing some consultation on the development of the questions to be asked.
OBFS plans to conduct a total of 20 focus groups between the five locations by the end of next week, with projections for 200 total participants. Candidates for these groups were identified by OBFS departments and customer groups such as the Academic Fiscal Officers in Chicago and the Business Managers Groups in Urbana and Springfield. In selecting the actual participants for the focus groups, the project team attempted to ensure a good representation of the various schools, colleges, and administrative units.
Springfield focus groups, which were held on November 1, consisted of four separate sessions. A total of 27 individuals participated -- 20 customers, 6 OBFS employees, and 1 student. At the Chicago Campus, six sessions were held totaling 74 individuals -- 64 campus customers and 10 OBFS employees. There was also one focus group held at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago with 10 participants and one additional group of customers at the College of Medicine at Rockford with 13 participants. Focus groups will be held at the College of Medicine at Peoria and at UIUC on November 13 through 15. Sixty-three campus customers as well as 11 OBFS employees have accepted invitations for these focus groups.
Thus far, the meetings have been very well received by participants. OBFS customers appreciate the fact that the organization is seeking their input and feedback. There was a high degree of interest to get involved and this is evident in the high attendance rate for the meetings. Both customers and OBFS employees were able to share some of their concerns and their desire to improve the partnerships that exist between the different stakeholders.
This first round of focus groups has provided members of OBFS with some very valuable insight into how to best reach its customers. In particular, the CSI project team has discovered that the focus group process may not represent the most effective means for soliciting student feedback and involvement in the initiative. The CSI project team is currently developing other ways in which students can become involved in the initiative and provide valuable feedback on OBFS' customer service means and methods.
Following the completion of the focus groups, OBFS will determine which topics should be covered in an electronic survey that will be distributed to its customers during the months of December and January. The sample population for the survey is planned to include approximately 6,000 individuals and will provide the CSI project team with additional insight into OBFS customers' perceptions of the service they receive.
Note: Additional information about the OBFS Customer Satisfaction Initiative can be found at www.obfs.uillinois.edu/csi/index.html.