Five Questions for: Julaine Kiehn

Julaine Kiehn, Five Questions, University of MissouriCustomer surveys are a vital part of most foodservice operations, but how to create a successful one and then put those suggestions into action can be a little trickier. Julaine Kiehn, director of Campus Dining Services at 30,200-student University of Missouri in Columbia, spoke about the challenges involved with customer surveys.

Many colleges use surveys to gain customer feedback, what do you guys do to differentiate your survey and make sure students participate?

We e-mail surveys directly to students; if they are going to respond, they usually do so within 24 to 48 hours. To encourage participation, we often enter survey respondents in a drawing for a declining balance card with Campus Dining Services.

What are some of the challenges involved in actually crafting the survey?

Each question needs to specifically address what we want to know so the questions must be clearly stated. Every question on a survey needs to have a purpose. Surveys need to stay short so they are respectful of the survey respondent's time investment. Also, sometimes responding to students’ feedback doesn’t work out. During one survey, students told us they wanted à la carte service for breakfast and lunch and all-you-care-to-eat service during dinner at one of our residential dining locations. When the renovated facility opened the following semester, students ended up preferring the all-you-care-to-eat service for all three meals.

What are some examples where you've gotten feedback from the survey and you've been able to translate that feedback into a reality?

Students told us they wanted to be able to spend part of a meal in our residential takeout operations. So we offered an option for students to convert their meals to points. For example students could receive 100 points each week, rather than 10 meals. This way students could then spend parts of meals.

What advice would you give other operators about crafting a student survey?

Always have a purpose for each question. Ensure the question is clear by testing the survey with a small customer group prior to administering the survey and making any necessary refinements. Keep the survey short to encourage participation. It may be helpful to follow up the survey results with focus group discussions to address specifics.

What are some of the items on this year's survey that you are going to look into implementing in the next few months?

We gathered feedback on the current dining plans and suggestions for changes so we are considering offering block dining plan options during fall 2010.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
aquaponics produce

We partnered with a student group interested in aquaponics to build a recirculating fish tank and lettuce growing operation in our Oval Dining Center. The large tanks are stocked with tilapia that live in the water and fertilize lettuce growing in the recirculating water under grow lights. We then harvest the lettuce and use it in our operations. The unit is set up in the dining room where customers can see the science in action, learn about the process and enjoy the fresh lettuce that was just picked.

Ideas and Innovation
fridge system

We installed a remote refrigeration system as part of our cafeteria renovation. The main part of the system is located on the roof and controls all our refrigerated equipment, including the walk-in freezer and coolers, beverage refrigerator, etc. The system allows us to identify problems faster, and the elimination of individual condenser units cuts down on A/C bills as well as noise.

Industry News & Opinion

Students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will be served student-grown produce from the campus farm at dining halls this fall, M Live reports.

The dining team received its first batch of produce from UM’s on-campus farm in June, after students received the proper USDA certification to grow, harvest and deliver food to campus dining halls. In order to figure out what produce is needed, students communicate with the dining department weekly, and Michigan Dining purchases items accordingly.

"The students are involved from seed to plate," Executive Chef Frank Turchan...

Sponsored Content
college students eating

From Ovention.

Today’s colleges and universities know they should offer more than a large selection of breakfast cereals in the morning and chicken tenders at lunch to appeal to students. When it comes to what’s trending on campuses, here’s a look at what directors can tune into to boost engagement.

1. Expanded dining hours

Late-night options have long been a popular fixture on college campuses, but if it’s too late, students often choose to venture to off-campus retailers to satisfy their cravings. According to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend...

FSD Resources