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South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: SDDOT 2004 Statewide Customer Satisfaction Assessment
Project Researcher: Chris Tatham, ETC Institute
Project Manager: Christina Bennett
Research Period: 2/19/2004 - 11/12/2004
Cost: $104,455.00

Problem Statement:

The South Dakota Department of Transportation has commissioned statewide customer satisfaction assessments in years 1997, 1999, and 2002. The surveys identified the Departments key products and services, and assessed the opinions and attitudes of the general public and the state legislature concerning their importance and quality of delivery. The surveys raised the Departments awareness of customers concerns and provided valuable insights into their degrees of satisfaction. Various offices within the Department have used the information from the surveys to help establish formal performance measures. Perhaps more importantly, findings have significantly influenced the Departments strategic planning process, which is regularly updated to reflect the customer expectations coming out of the surveys.

In addition to assessing levels of customer satisfaction, the SDDOT is interested in gaining feedback on the effectiveness of the initiatives implemented in response to the ongoing survey process. Public awareness and perceptions of the ways that customer surveys and the strategic planning process have influenced certain departmental programs, program prioritization, and funding priorities would be of particular interest to the Department.

Several recurrent questions also arise when new customer surveys are initiated, such as:

  • Have perceptions of the Departments performance changed significantly? If so, how?

  • How has the Department responded to issues raised in the prior surveys? Have the responses been effective? Are more proactive or effective responses possible?

  • Do key customer segments-such as commercial truckers, older drivers, the agricultural industry, tourists, and others-perceive the Departments services and performance differently from the population at large? If so, how should the Department respond?

  • Do public perceptions accurately distinguish between services provided by the Department and services provided by other public and private entities? How well received are the Departments budgetary allocations in efforts to deliver the right mix of services?

  • Have new issues emerged that are important to the legislature, the general public, or key customer segments?

  • Research is needed to reassess perceptions of the Departments performance, explain their significance, and identify how the Department can respond to them.

    Findings: The consultant conducted a Customer Satisfaction Assessment of residents and key customer groups, including truckers, out-of-state visitors, state legislators, farmers/ranchers, and emergency vehicle operators. The purpose of the assessment was to gather statistically valid data from residents and persons who impact transportation decisions in the State of South Dakota to help identify short-term and long-term transportation priorities for the Department. The assessment findings will be used as part of the SDDOT's strategic planning process and will be incorporated into the Department's 2005 Strategic Plan. SDDOT previously completed statewide Customer Satisfaction Assessments in 1997, 1999, and 2002. The assessment involved numerous data collection elements that were well-defined ahead of time and proved to target desired feedback very well. The survey design process was conducted very thoroughly and was accomplished through interviews with internal and external stakeholders, as well as focus groups composed of residents and key customers groups. The statewide survey to obtain statistically representative data from the six key customer groups was also performed very professionally. The results of the statewide survey led the consultant to very thorough conclusions and well designed recommendations that will provide the SDDOT with a comprehensive set of information to identify and manage customer-oriented improvements over the next two years.

    Research Objectives:
    1  To assess the opinions of the public and key customer groups regarding the composition, importance, and quality of the Department of Transportation's key products and services.
    2  To assess progress in addressing customer concerns through the Department's ongoing development and execution of its strategic planning efforts.
    3  To identify specific actions the Department can take to improve its performance and the perception by the public and key customer groups regarding that performance.

    Research Tasks:
    1  Meet with the project's technical panel to review the project's scope and work plan.
    2  Interview selected managers and staff of SDDOT to identify important issues related to customer service and to identify actions taken in response to the Department's prior customer surveys.
    3  Conduct focus groups or interviews with members of the general public and key customer groups, which may include commercial truckers, older drivers, the agricultural industry, and tourists to identify significant issues that should be addressed quant
    4  Summarize the findings of interviews and focus groups and present them to the technical panel and the Department's 12-member Executive Team.
    5  Based on interviews, focus groups, and feedback from the technical panel and Executive Team, develop survey instrument(s) to be used in quantitative survey(s) and submit them for approval of the technical panel.
    6  Upon approval of the survey instrument(s), conduct quantitative survey(s) to assess perceptions and opinions concerning the composition, importance, and quality of SDDOT's products and services.
    7  Prepare and submit for approval of the technical panel a technical memorandum that summarizes survey results, compares them to prior assessments, and identifies important issues deserving the Department's action.
    8  Conduct a workshop with the Department's Executive Team to identify possible actions for responding to the survey findings.
    9  Develop an action plan that can be incorporated into the Department's overall strategic planning efforts and that addresses the acknowledged issues and concerns.
    10  Prepare a final report summarizing research methodology, findings, conclusions and recommendations, as well as recommended updates to the survey instrument to be used in the succeeding survey cycle.
    11  Make executive presentations to SDDOT's Research Review Board and Executive Team at the conclusion of the project.

    Documents Available:
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