Researcher experience insights

Identifying high-value opportunities for strategic investment at a leading Australian University.

CXCO was engaged to lead a strategic insights program to understand the Researcher experience, identify strategic opportunities that create value, and to inform the design of the future state Researcher-centred service model. CXCO designed the approach, delivered the end-to-end project, and engaged a wide range of stakeholders from across the University.

Our client needed a whole-of-university perspective to understand the key opportunities for strategic investment and engage researchers, faculty and mentors. CXCO was chosen because of our human-centred approach to understanding complex systems. Key opportunities for strategic investment were supported by evidence-based insights and solved real problems, enabling the University to drive an improved Researcher service experience. 

The opportunity

The University was facing challenges through government funding policy reform, increased complexity in funding models, and a greater emphasis on Researchers engaging with industry for funding of large-scale collaborations targeting problems of high social impact. The University’s Researcher service model had not evolved alongside these external changes.

The University acknowledged the need to take a strategic approach to investment in research excellence. They wanted to understand the experience of Researchers at the University, and improve the service provided to Researchers, within the new government and industry funding environment. 

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Our approach

Icon_ Explore v3Discover

We conducted a series of workshops with University service teams and stakeholders to understand service model and current researcher experience. We also analysed existing quantitative survey data and explored the impact of recent funding policy reforms on University research programs. This informed the scope and design of subsequent research activities.


Icon_ Research_1 v2Contextual research 

We engaged over 120 University representatives to gain insight into the existing Researcher experience.  Our approach included interviews with leadership, shadowing service team members, workshops with service teams, and in-depth contextual inquiries with Researchers.


Icon_ Sense v2Sense making 

Affinity diagramming was used to find patterns and themes across 5,000+ pieces of observational and interview data. Synthesis surfaced insights and opportunities, and informed the creation of decision-making tools, including creation of a current state journey map, Design principles, Personas, and a Service map articulating activities that support the Researcher service model.  


Icon_ idea v2Insights and Opportunities

Insights, findings, opportunities and recommendations were delivered in a report and presented in multiple formats to a broad range of internal stakeholders from leadership to service team members. Information sessions were also delivered across the University to share our findings and support a common understanding of the Researcher Experience.

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The Researcher experience customer journey was presented as a key deliverable

Key outcomes

  • Identification of three primary strategic opportunities to increase value, and over 30 innovative and continuous improvement opportunities to enhance the service experience

  • Creation of decision-making tools to enable insight-led decisions during design and delivery of the future state Researcher-centred service model

  • Strategic insight and clarity on Researcher needs when joining the University, achieving funding, and managing their career and research project. 

  • Cross-disciplinary and multi-level behavioural and mind-set shifts toward a more collaborative way of working was achieved through increased empathy, shared understanding and increased focused on the end customer