Berkeley Lab

User satisfaction is high, according to 2017 survey

This post is from Alison Hatt, Director of the User Program

Late in 2017, the Molecular Foundry User Office compiled the results of our annual User Satisfaction Survey. Thank you to the several hundred users who took the time to complete the survey, providing critical feedback that helps the Foundry best support our users.

The core questions about user satisfaction come from the Department of Energy, our funding agency, and user responses reveal a high level of satisfaction. 

This year, in collaboration with the User Executive Committee and the Foundry’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, we added a few questions about culture to the survey. Responses to these questions suggest that users are happy with the culture of the Foundry, where they feel welcome, respected, and able to participate in a scientifically stimulating community. 

We’re very happy to see these positive results but are always looking for ways to improve. An additional question on culture revealed that 41% of users aren’t sure who to talk to if they have concerns about cultural issues at the Foundry, which we intend to address through updates to the website and during orientation for new users.

Perhaps the richest source of actionable feedback was the hundreds of user comments. With help from the UEC, we’ve digested these comments and determined a number of actions to take in response. The many suggestions for new instruments and capabilities are all reflected on the Foundry’s list of investment priorities. Problems with instrument downtime were noted and will be addressed in part through an online system for instrument status updates in certain facilities. Communication challenges with staff were also noted, leading to an in-depth discussion at our recent staff retreat. Many users had suggestions for improvements in training and lab management, such as letting users start safety training courses before they arrive, which will be implemented in the new User Portal this spring. Finally, many suggestions were made for improving user culture, such as providing better logistical information on our website and coordinating facility tours for new users, both of which are in the works.

Thank you to our users for helping us identify areas for improvement and for contributing a tremendous volume of constructive feedback and good ideas.

And, finally, a word cloud of user comments about what we’re doing right makes very clear that our scientific and technical staff continue to be the most impressive thing about the Foundry.

Look out for the 2018 User Satisfaction Survey in September. In the meantime, you can send feedback to the UEC or the User Office any time of the year.