Monday, April 24, 2017

"Surveys Don't Always Serve Us Well"

Surveys are used extensively in marketing to collect and measure public opinion. They are used to evaluate customer satisfaction and performance. The can help shape new service or product development or determine how well current offerings are being perceived and used.

Surveys seem to be used more and more as a form of corporate validation - companies immediately contact us after an encounter with them to verify that we had a good experience, that they served our needs well, and that we would recommend them to someone else. There is no room for disagreement, only validation of a good job.

When things don't go well during an encounter - and we immediately get a survey by email or text upon conclusion of the call or the online chat - we are better off just ignoring or deleting the survey request. It's unlikely they are interested in haring about our experiences to correct a poor or uneventful performance or they would have taken steps to keep it from becoming that way during the encounter.

As for us as aging in place professionals, we would like to know that the work we do for our clients is appreciated and that we met their level of expectations and professionalism. However, there are better ways to do this than mailing out a survey or emailing one. For one, our clients may not have email capabilities so a phone survey or a mail out-mail back approach may be all that can be used.

Still, getting personal feedback directly from the client and other members of their family or inner circle while we are selling, doing, and completing the job is likely more timely and more valuable - and less intrusive - than contacting them after the fact to have them tell us again what they already have shared. If there were issues during the project, we surely are aware of them and have had extensive discussions already. If the job went well, the client has shared their appreciation with us. Is it really that useful to us to get these thoughts and responses in writing at the conclusion of the project? 

People seem to think that survey construction is easy and that little thought needs to go into it. Just write a few questions, and you get a survey. It's much more precise than that which is why most surveys are weak. To be good, they need to have a purpose - a single purpose. Once the questions are drafted, they need to be tested to see if they are interpreted by an impartial person (such as the client or customer who will get it later) the way they are intended. Nothing worse than having a term misconstrued or not understood.

It is so much more than just typing up some questions and calling it a survey. Then, one needs to be able to analyze and use the information, once - and if - it it received. If there are no plans or too little time to really work with any responses that are returned, and the main interest is just in being able to claim customer satisfaction, it's best to skip the effort entirely. 

Ever notice how many surveys ask us to rank, rate, or grade our experience on a scale of 1-10, strongly agree-strongly disagree, always-never, and the like? Human nature being what it is, most people reply in the middle or a little either side of the middle. Their true feeling may not be represented because it easier just to mark an average performance. There's the thought also by some people that nothing is 100% good or bad so their responses fall somewhere below the extremes at either end.

Rather than using surveys or evaluation forms which take time to construct, may not have a real clear meaning to the person receiving it, may reflect someone's mood at the moment rather than their actual experience, and need to compiled once completed, personal or telephone follow-up contact may serve our needs much better.  

____________

Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn