|Descriptive Title of Proposal:||40,000 users, one unique experience|
|Person(s) Responsible for the Idea||
|Name of Institution||Université du Québec à Montréal|
|Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution)||André Dorion|
|Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution)||Vice-President, Administration and Finance|
|Office Address||Pavillon Athanase-David, local D-4410
Montréal, Quebec H2X 3J8
|Telephone:||514-987-3000 ext. 0120|
With over a hundred employees and 460 student employees, Student Life Services (SLS) is one of the UQAM campus’ largest employers, serving over 40,000 students. Such a large service poses some obvious challenges. How can we share an organizational culture when teams are divided into five distinct services that rarely work together and are not aware of the others’ expertise? How can we offer a “unique” experience to 40,000 individuals with a variety of needs and expectations?
To answer these questions and find applicable solutions, in the fall of 2012, the SLS team undertook steps to improve its user experience.
Aided by a consultant specialized in strategic organizational development, a 12-employee work committee began assessing “user paths” and setting service quality objectives. From this exercise, fluidity came out as the ultimate objective for improving the use of our services. But how can we truly integrate this objective of increased fluidity into our daily practices?
So that we might first understand and assimilate the principles of “user experience” and then participate in proposing solutions for improving the fluidity of our service offer, the entire SLS staff took part in training-brainstorming days. Everyone helped define the organization’s values and agreed on the team qualities we need to develop (namely, collaborating and being service-oriented) to improve our work together.
We then defined and implemented specific projects for improving the user experience. Here are the highlights:
Begun in the fall of 2012, the process of improving our users’ experience culminated in the spring of 2013 with training-brainstorming days for all employees. In fact, it continues today (a detailed timeline can be found in APPENDIX I). For the current year (2014-2015), many committees are working to set up a recognition program for employees that will highlight their individual strengths and qualities in the goal of working better together to offer fluid services and encourage collaboration between our five divisions. Employees already receive a monthly newsletter, and other projects are underway to pursue our commitment of “40,000 users, one unique experience.”
|Criteria||Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.|
Although the solutions that came out of the “40,000 users, one unique experience” project are specific to our work context, the process that led to their development could certainly benefit any other large teaching institution seeking to harmonize service demand and offer.
To guide its process, our team adopted a framework that could be applied elsewhere. Here are the five steps for improving the user experience:
Setting up an employee recognition program: To better coordinate our efforts in a fluid service offer, our team is currently setting up a program that will recognize employee strengths. In doing so, we wish to publicize and recognize the qualities found within our team to facilitate lateral collaboration between our various divisions.
The business hours of our different service counters and telephone lines were standardized. This greatly facilitated students’ referencing and access to our services. Previously, given the size of UQAM’s student services, someone referred from one service to the next could end up at a locked door. The standardization of business hours is therefore an example of the more fluid service offer we are aspiring to.
The overhaul of the website (as can be consulted here, in French) is a major project with a positive impact on the quality of our services. By making it easier to find information, students come informed and are seeking out less help from clerks to find the answer to their basic questions. Although a large amount of outdated content was removed, the number of pages consulted on the site continues to grow (7.68%, going from 1,379,181 in 2012-2013 to 1,485,115 in 2013-2014), as does the number of one-time hits (going from 280,250 to 284,903). We have noticed a significant improvement in several variables used to assess the user experience, particularly the bounce rate. This means hits on the homepage, which the user leaves without further interaction. While the bounce rate increased as the site got older (it was created in 2008) and reached 58.51% last year, it fell to 52.67% this year, a rate seen four years ago.
One of the largest projects coming out of “40,000 users, one unique experience” is the automation of processes that previously required students to come to our service points, sometimes multiple times. These operations can now be done automatically online, thus freeing clerks from repetitive tasks. The most remarkable gains in productivity we have noticed are:
Using the technologies students prefer (website, social media and email) and thus reducing the number of printed communications has also led to large savings: over $22,500 are now saved annually on producing promotional materials. All promotional materials were reviewed and only four paper-form SLS productions remain in circulation.
The innovation of this project is couched in the originality of its process. To improve the user experience of our service offer to students, we first worked on the organization’s cohesion and team spirit.
Many of the projects that have come out of this process are also innovative. We have automatized various processes (study grant applications, workshop registration, sports centre activity registration, reservation of rooms for student associations or groups, etc.) so that they can now be done online.
Moreover, the process of improving the user experience has led us to entirely rethink our website. Its overhaul is innovative on several accounts: