Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pulse of our Customers

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Deepest thanks to the 128 grantees and grant-seeking organizations that participated in our recent Customer Service Survey.  That’s nearly double the number of respondents in 2008, the first time we formally took the pulse of our “customers.”

The McCormick Foundation’s Journalism Program takes this process very seriously.  Staff interactions with organizations that apply or are funded by McCormick form the core of what we do and how we do it.
Next week’s Director’s Notes (scheduled for Feb. 8 posting) will outline some of the strategic and procedural changes we are making in response to your feedback.

Let’s remember that the goal of the survey was to learn how we can improve our customer service.  In December, we closely eyeballed an 18-page report sent by Kate Julian, the consultant who administered the survey.  The respondents were roughly 40 percent grantees, 20 percent former grantees and 40 percent declined applicants.
We included questions about our grantmaking strategy in content, audience and rights. We asked about the application process, timelines, reporting requirements and the effectiveness of our digital communication offerings.

Most of the results were favorable. More than 80 percent say we do a good job of explaining the grantmaking process. They clearly understand our guidelines and find the procedures useful.  Some 79 percent of the respondents use our website several times per year or more to glean information, apply for grants or report their results.

About 75 percent said our grantmaking process is either better than usual or best in class.  Some 92 percent of the respondents agree or strongly agree that the Journalism Program staff is courteous, responsive, knowledgeable, helpful and accessible. Words used to describe us include focused, innovative, forward thinking, relevant, strategic, committed and passionate.

However, not everyone hopped aboard the Love Train.  For example, only one in three respondents feel that changes in our funding priorities have been clearly communicated.  Moreover, about half of those who were declined funding say they want more information on why others were selected. We have been described as a little out of step, ambiguous, bureaucratic and brusque. Ouch.
Other key findings:

  • Nine of ten respondents find meetings and phone conversations with MF staff to be useful.  Only four in ten find social media a useful communication strategy.
  • About one in four respondents didn’t access the McCormick Foundation website in 2011.  Only one in three accessed the McCormick Media Matters blog.
  • About nine of ten who connect with our website, blog and social media rated the content as excellent or good.  Most access our digital content to learn about the work of the Journalism Program and its grantees.  More than 90 percent say they were able to find what they were looking for on the website and blog.
  • More good news: Two thirds of the grantees say the Journalism Program has contributed to their organizations beyond the dollars received. And not so good: Nearly half of all respondents remain fuzzy about our program deadlines.  That is disturbing and will be addressed.

--Clark Bell, Journalism Program Director 

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