User Experience (UX) service

Finance Department snapshot of student experiences

We interviewed staff who deal with students’ initial enquiries on finance-based matters to build an initial picture of current experiences.

The client

The Finance Service Excellence Programme team:

  • Dawn Holmes – Programme Manager
  • Nichola Malcolm – Project Manager

The challenge

The UX Service Team was asked to build a picture of the current student experience of dealing with money-related issues typically dealt with by the University’s Finance Department.

Having undertaken workshops with Finance Department staff and stakeholders, the Service Excellence Programme team were interested in exploring the identified issues from a student perspective to broaden their insight, and potentially validate what they had learned to date.

Our goals were to:

  • Further define and profile end users, in order to establish and validate the contexts within which they require support
  • Gain a better understanding of end user competency in the context of current support structures (terminology, organisational and delivery of information)
  • Visualise the full process of using the service as a user, including where possible the back-end processes that occur in order to meet those interactions

What we did

This demonstration case for the UX Service supporting Service Excellence was limited to 7 working days. A shorter than ideal time frame, this resulted in us concluding that interviewing staff who support students directly was the best way to form an initial impression of the current experience. This could be validated with students should the research progress.

We had hoped to involve a small sample of students and some analysis of enquiry data as part of our work, but neither of these proved feasible due to the timescales and the availability of staff from the Finance Department itself.

Outcomes and benefits

The insight gathered from interviews and mini-workshops conducted with staff based in schools, colleges and the Students Union (EUSA) was translated from session notes into personas that summarised trends in staff experiences of supporting different kinds of students, and a high level map of their perception of the current student experience.

Presenting the findings back to the Programme Team, along with representatives from the Finance Department and the Student Administration Service Excellence Programme provided an opportunity for dialogue and collaboration around a common point of interest in the student experience.

The insight summarised through the personas and experience map have now been shared more widely than the team that initially commissioned the research.

The exercise demonstrated what could be achieved in a relatively short time frame when specialist skills and new approaches are available. The insight, while not particularly robust and in need of validation through different perspectives, has added value to the ongoing process of understanding user needs and how business processes could evolve.

UX techniques used

Interviews and contextual inquiry


Client quotes

The user research identified stakeholder groups that hadn’t been expected whilst also reassuring us about areas where we already suspected there were issues.

Having the researcher present findings via the personas and experience map provided a helpful point of communication and collaboration with colleagues working on the Student Administration Programme of Service Excellence.

We’re now using the personas generated in our service mapping exercises.

Dawn HolmesFinance Service Excellence Programme Manager