Build a better survey: navigating customer satisfaction survey challenges

In a climate of declining budgets and rising student and faculty expectations, a better understanding of customer wants and needs can help facilities ensure best use of limited resources. To that end, facilities departments are increasingly turning to annual customer satisfaction surveys to measure their campuses’ views of facilities performance.

Customer satisfaction surveys vary in length and composition, but they all are designed to help facilities leaders achieve three unique goals. First, these surveys create a formal method for campus customers to share feedback. Given the importance of shared governance in higher education, providing an avenue for faculty, staff, and students to express their opinions is valuable.

Surveys also help facilities gather information to make better resource allocation decisions. By identifying weak points in facilities operations as well as the issues most important to campus constituents, facilities leaders can better align day-to-day operations and larger capital renewal decisions with actual campus needs.

Lastly, customer satisfaction surveys equip leaders with a better understanding of customers’ attitudes toward facilities services and help facilities identify ways to improve their operations. Using survey results as a guide, select facilities departments have improved overall customer relations, surfaced professional development gaps, and fostered a more customer-centric culture among facilities staff.

Navigate customer satisfaction survey challenges

Overcoming challenges to an effective survey

It’s important to note customer satisfaction surveys often fail to deliver on institutions’ aspirations. There are three major challenges most institutions often encounter while conducting customer satisfaction surveys.

  1. Institutions fail to set clear goals for their survey, and as a result, they do not get useful information.
  2. Surveys fail to reach important customers and garner response rates that allow for a comprehensive analysis. Even a well-designed survey will not provide value if it does not reach customers whose feedback is critical to understanding diverse campus needs.
  3. Even when institutions have well-designed surveys with high response rates, they are often not sure how to analyze the data to isolate actionable information and make meaningful improvements to facilities operations.

 Navigate customer satisfaction survey challenges

To see value from customer satisfaction surveys, institutions must address all three challenges.

  1. Facilities leaders must clearly outline their aspirations for the survey upfront so they can better select questions that yield actionable responses.
  2. Leaders must also create an outreach plan that includes all necessary constituents and provides a full picture of campus opinions.
  3. Institutions should use more strategic analyses to understand responses and ultimately make informed, customer-centric decisions about resource allocation, investments, and more.

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