Website visitors... eager to offer improvement advice
Over the past year 16 colleges and universities have done Customer Centric Index surveys with various groups visiting their website here in the United States and in Canada, Sweden, Norway, and the U.K.
Until recently we didn't have an option for adding answers to an open-ended question, but several of the early participants asked us to include that feature. And so in three recent CCI surveys completed at Bemidji State University, Ball State University's School of Extended Education, and Rider University we added a question like this:
- "If there was one improvement you could make to our website, what would you do and why would you do it?"
50 to 75 Percent Response
While we didn't predict a response rate in advance, the actual level was a major surprise. For Bemidji and Ball State, about 50 percent of everyone completing the survey took the time to add a written comment. At Rider, the only one so far to use a prize incentive to encourage responses, the response rate from survey takers jumped to 75 percent.
The message seems clear: ask people to help you improve your website and many will take the time to do just that.
Highest Concerns: Search and Links
Results of these last three surveys continue to confirm that two items are most likely to stand out as needing improvement regardless of who is answering the survey:
- Search... in this age of "Google," people have high expectations that search will work well at their college or university. For most people, it does not.
- Links... dissatisfaction with link structure is a common concern. People often are happy with content when they can find it. But too often, finding what they want is a special challenge.
Nancy Prater, director of marketing and communications at Ball State's School of Extended Education, summed up the value of the CCI survey results:
"The CCI survey has helped us identify problems we did not know we had, verify customer service issues we suspected existed, determine what we are doing right, and give us important benchmarks for measuring future improvement. We are using this data to make adjustments to our navigation and Web site copy, especially as it relates to search terms. It is also helping us focus efforts on our most critical needs, so that we are tackling problems impacting the largest number of our Web readers first.
"We added an open-ended question at the end of the survey to help us understand the "whys" behind some of the responses. This provided us with more helpful and honest feedback than we would have received in a whole series of focus groups.
That's all for now.