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.