tabsurvey blog

How to increase response rate for surveys on the go

In this blog post I want to shed light on factors that can influence the response rate if you are performing Surveys On The Go in general.

What are Surveys On The Go?

By Surveys On The Go I mean the type of survey which are available in the physical space and captures responses quickly and here and now. Obviously, the survey itself matters: the questions you ask and how your engage with your visiting audience. If you are interested in survey design in general and which survey strategy to adapt, you can read about it here and here. However, there are some other, external factors that can affect your response rate. One of these elements are the respondent turnover rate.

What is your respondent turnover rate?

The respondent turnover rate is defined by how quickly the population of respondents (surveyees) changes over time in the physical location you are surveying. For instance, if you are a retailer, and you are surveying your visiting customers, then your respondent turnover rate would be the number of new visitors your store gets divided by the number of total visitors. Imagine that your store receives 1,000 monthly visitors. Of these 300 visited your store the month before, and so they are repeat visitors. Your respondent turnover rate would be (300/1,000) x 100 = 30 percent.

surveys on the go

 

A place where the turnover rate is even higher would be in a Tourism Information Center or Welcoming Center. Naturally, the turnover rate would be high here because very few tourists would visit a welcoming center more than once. Therefore, the turnover rate would be close to 100 percent, as almost every visitor is new and unique.

At the other end of the scale, consider the cafeteria of a company. The employees here are asked about the satisfaction with the warm meal – every day. The respondent turnover rate here is close to zero.

In the examples given above, the overall motivation for answering a survey is, among other factors, dependent on the respondent turnover rate. I.e. the more times the respondent sees the same survey, the less motivated she would be to answer it. This is why you cannot apply the same kind of logic when performing, say, an employee engagement survey and a visitor center survey. Apart from the fact that there is a big difference in the composition of the respondents, there are some other factors that could affect your response rates.

Asking someone raises their expectations

Consider your company was surveying you in your cafeteria every day and that they asked the same question everyday: ”How did you like the warm dish today?”. The first time they ask, you rate it mediocre and comment that the chicken was dry. The following week, you get chicken again, and guess what: It’s still dry. When experiencing the dry chicken once again the third week, you simply don’t answer anymore, because what’s the point, right?

The lesson to be learned is that the lower the turnover rate of the respondents is, the more important it is for you as survey creator to ensure that the surveys you present are variated. Please see the below graph depicting a simplified correlation between survey variation and respondent turnover rate.

 

increase response rate

 

Ways to increase the response rate if respondent turnover rate is low

Areas where the respondent turnover rate is typically low includes: Internal employee engagement surveys, facility management services (like printing, cleaning, cafeteria etc.), educational institutions, and food businesses that have a very frequent, regular customer base.

For these and related segments, we recommend some of the following ways to increase the response rate for your surveys.

  • Stop-go approach. One solution is not to monitor continuously, but instead apply a stop-go approach. For instance, to survey for 1-2 weeks and then stop the survey for another 1-2 weeks.
  • Acknowledge and visualise results. In itself or in conjunction with the stop-go approach, a good way to spend the weeks of not surveying would be to acknowledge the feedback received, for instance by sharing the feedback with the respondents (customers, visitors, employees). This would create a common understanding of what feedback was given and identify what, if anything, needs to be changed.
  • Act. Acting on the results from any survey ensures high motivation from the respondents and raises the chances of higher completion rates in the future.
  • Change some questions. Keep some overall base questions but vary others to keep the survey from being too boring.

Dry chicken example revisited

So if you are asking about the warm meal of the day. Then follow up in the coming weeks with a different question, like: ”Is the chicken still dry?” or “If we were to change the menu away from chicken, what would you prefer, we changed it to?” (with alternatives). That way, you are signaling that you are actually listening and want to improve the services you provide.

Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have you or are you performing surveys on the go in areas where the same people are passing through? How do you engage your respondents?

Best questions for a patient satisfaction survey

Background

I remember when tabsurvey first started out as a Software as a Service (SaaS) company. For a few years we had been selling our service to customers that we approached directly. Either through cold canvassing or our network. But one day back in February 2012, we launched our service online for anyone to sign up for and try. It was quite existing for us, and I clearly remember our first signup. It was an Australian hospital, and their patient satisfaction survey was titled: Patient Centered Care. Since then other hospitals and medical institutions have started using our service for conducting patient satisfaction surveys of different kinds.

In this blog post I will deal with some issues related to patient satisfaction surveys. Firstly, the importance of conducting patient satisfaction surveys in the first place. Secondly, how a patient satisfaction survey differs from other satisfaction surveys in nature. Finally, I will address which key issues to focus on, what questions to ask, and lastly, how to ask them.

 

Why perform a patient satisfaction survey?

I have lived most of my life in Denmark, where we have a free and fairly well-functioning healthcare system. Therefore, you may ask yourself why it’s important to survey patients. You could argue that since there’s a public system in place, there really isn’t much of an alternative.

However, under different governments, the public healthcare system has been subject to large cost-saving initiatives. At the same time, we expect the same services for less money. Cutbacks, restructuring of work processes and new IT-systems are all part of the new reality for doctors, nurses and all other employees. As a consequence, and for various reasons, the public healthcare system needs to prove a point. It needs to prove to patients, politicians and society in general that it cares about the services it provides and patient satisfaction.

patient satisfaction survey

 

The private healthcare sector hasn’t not been subject to the same political pressure, but still it finds itself in an increasingly competitive market. Over the past 15-20 years, the use of private healthcare has been become popular in Denmark. So, not only is personal health a very important matter to most people, making related KPIs important to track. The sector is also subject to increased competition, which means that patient satisfaction becomes a business critical KPI. Both in the private and public healthcare sector.

Most countries in the world don’t have public healthcare, and for that reason running patient satisfaction surveys is even more relevant. There are some pitfalls, however, which I will address below.

Focus areas for patient satisfaction surveys

You know the term “the customer is always right”, right? In retail surveys we assume that making the customer happy and satisfied will yield positive ratings and more business. If the customer purchases an item for a competitive price and receives good service, then we expect the feedback to be positive. However, when dealing with healthcare, there’s a distinction between what a patient needs and what a patient wants.

Let me give you an example: A patient is receiving treatment for her back injuries. Between her and a medical specialist in charge there’s a discussion regarding the course for the treatment. The patient wants an operation, but the specialist advocates back exercises and pain-killers – a more moderate approach. Consequently, the patient may rate her treatment poorly even though the suggestions from the medical specialist were the best approach. In such a case, high overall satisfaction may not necessarily be the end gold in itself, but a range of benchmark criteria could be.

According to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) the following nine areas are key to a patient satisfaction survey:

  • Communication with doctors
  • Communication with nurses
  • Responsiveness of hospital staff
  • Pain management
  • Communication about medicines
  • Discharge information
  • Cleanliness of the hospital environment
  • Quietness of the hospital environment
  • Transition of care

These key areas would be accompanied by various questions about demographics. As you can probably tell from the above, a lot of focus revolves around communication and information, and this plays well into the strategy of Patient Centered Care.

 

Patient Centered Care as a guiding principle

Simply put, patient centered care is a strategy or philosophy where all activities in a hospital or other medical facility is mapped to the patient’s needs. According to NEJM Catalyst Patient Centered Care means that: “…the healthcare system’s mission, vision, values, leadership, and quality-improvement drivers are aligned to patient-centered goals.” They list six other criteria, e.g. the delivery of care, physical comfort, patient preferences, the role of patient families and how information is shared.

patient centered care

NEJM goes on to say that one of the benefits of Patient Centered Care is “improved satisfaction scores among patients and their families”. That means that some of the elements of patient centered care can be surveyed and hence become important KPIs for further scrutiny. This is why patient satisfaction surveys support patient centered care so well. It simply ensures that there’s an constant focus on the patient’s goals.

Take for instance the element of communication and information. From a patient point of view, it can be fairly easy to recall how she feels informed and communicated to, but for the responsible doctor or nurse, who sees maybe 25 patients in one day, it can be difficult to recall the dialogue, or the process around the handover of patient information etc. Hence, it’s difficult to reflect on a single patient’s feedback especially if its presented in a monthly or quarterly satisfaction report.

 

Best questions for a patient satisfaction survey

Using a tablet-based survey service like tabsurvey can serve as an enabler for dialogue, feedback, understanding and eventually better patient retention. We propose a two-tier strategy where you survey satisfaction on the day-to-day interactions with quick surveys.

 

patient satisfaction surveys

 

Bearing in mind the focus areas mentioned earlier in this post, some of the best questions for patient satisfaction surveys include:

  1. How would you rate the communication with medical staff today?
  2. Did the care provider listen to your questions or concerns?
  3. How well did the staff work together in their care for you?
  4. Do you have confidence in your current care provider?
  5. How well were you informed about the procedure you are undergoing today?
  6. Based on your most recent experience, would you recommend our clinic to a family member or friend?
  7. Were our staff friendly and forthcoming today?

The purpose of these questions is to ensure that all personnel strive towards the underlying KPIs. These KPIs are, in turn, often linked to vision, mission, values and culture. In other words when people know what KPIs they are measured on, then their behaviour will automatically follow.

The long term KPIs, which would focus on the long term goals of a treatment (i.e. being cured), would not be art of the survey, as respondents would not be able to answer properly until a certain period of time had passed. The medical staff could present such questions on a follow-up consultation or as a survey link via an email.

Hope you enjoyed today’s post and hope that you might start using tabsurvey for your patient satisfaction survey.

Best tips for using a survey app

Today, there are many choices if you want to run surveys. You can perform surveys on your website, send people emails and text messages, or use dedicated devices and apps. Depending on where and who you want to ask your questions, the best solution for you depends on many factors. In this post we’ll give you the best tips for engaging with your responders using a survey app.

Why should I be using a survey app in the first place?

Well, a native app holds some advantages over a basic online survey. First and foremost, it’s not dependent on having stabile network connection. Should the connection fail, then the survey answers will be stored offline in the app until the connection is re-established. Apart from giving the surveyor more data security, this also adds to the positive experience of the survey responder.

 

What’s important when using a survey app?

There are several things you need to consider. The below points largely deal with the practical aspects of the setting up a solution, and what to be aware of, if you want a hassle-free implementation.

 

Location, location, location…

One of the most important factors is the location of your survey. If you are placing a high-end product like an iPad somewhere in a physical environment, location is an important factor. This is because it very much affects the security measures you need to consider for the solution.

using a survey app

Where you want to place your survey station depends on what you want to examine and what experience or emotion you want to capture. If you are considering surveying a retail store, you should read this blog on survey placement, which explains in depth how to get good results.

But for now, let’s assume that you want to survey the customer experience near the exit of a shopping mall. From a survey perspective, the first thing you need to consider is if the survey station is secure. The less secure the location, the more you should be attentive to the security aspects of your installation.

 

Protecting your survey station

If you’re not planning to use facilitating personnel when you conduct your surveys, then security becomes even more important. The security aspects of placing an iPad in a semi-public location pose two security concerns. Namely how to secure your hardware and how to secure your software. We’ll address them both below.

 

Securing your survey app

Firstly, you need to make sure that responders or outsiders are unable to exit the survey app. We have seen examples (obviously not with our app!) where outsiders have been successful in exiting a survey app, and playing disturbing videos to the outrage of casual by-passers. This reflects poorly on the company who is conducting the surveys and the consequences could be severe.

However, there are solutions available. One option is to use Apple’s volume purchasing program (VPP) and distribute the survey app through Mobile Device Management (MDM) software. The MDM software can ensure restricted access to the iPad and disable certain hardware buttons, and thus facilitate the deployment and administration of a survey app. Leading vendors within this space include Miradore, AirWatch and Xenmobile by Citrix.

If you are using a survey app in a few locations and don’t have access to MDM software, another option is use Apple’s own guided access to restrict access. Although, guided access basically provides the same core functionality for free and works just fine, we only recommend using this approach if you have five locations or less, as it involves the administration of Apple ids and lacks a centralized deployment process and overall monitoring.

 

Securing your survey station

Even though you have made sure that no one can start other apps on the device, you also need to consider how to secure the iPad and the iPad stand that you are using. When you are considering iPad stands, there are several options out there. Here, at tabsurvey we have had the opportunity to work with several products. Two stand out.

using a survey app

If your need is an elegant solution, that should endure an highly dynamic environment, and where there’s a risk of theft or vandalism, then our recommendation is the lockable iPad case or stand from BOX IT Design. With thousands of installations worldwide, BOX IT Design’s products have by far proved themselves to be durable and well-designed high-end options.

survey station

However, should your needs for an iPad stand be different, because your survey is internal or placed in a supervised area, then a great alternative are the stands from Armour Dog. Armour Dog delivers a cost-effective alternative, which is mainly available as table stands.

With both products you can mount the stands onto a surface like a floor, a wall or a table. You can also acquire a steel wire with a padlock, if you want to secure the stand further.

Utilities and infrastructure

Once you have made the appropriate decisions regarding security, there are still a few other things to pay attention to. One is something as basic as ensuring that you place the iPad and stand near a power outlet. It may seem trivial, but if your device runs out of power, then it won’t be collecting answers for you!

Another issue is the Internet connection. Even though the app can run without an Internet connection, it will not transfer data to your online reports unless there’s a live connection. A time-limited guest wi-fi with login enabled via browser won’t do the trick, as they it will kick off it’s users after 24 or 48 hours. If you must use Wi-Fi, make sure that it’s a reliable internal (preferable hidden) network, or a cellular-based Internet connection. In either case it’s important that the connection is stable and strong.

If you have considered all of the above points, and made the appropriate choices then you are definitely on track to using a survey app successfully.

 

Conclusion

This blog post primarily dealt with the practical issues, which you will face as a project manager, store manager or implementation partner when using a survey app to run surveys. The things to consider include:

  1. Finding the right location for your survey station
  2. Taking the appropriate measures for securing your hardware and software; and lastly
  3. Ensuring that the necessary infrastructure requirements are present

Be sure to read our next blog, which will give pointers to a successful implementation of a customer experience management project from an organisational involvement point of view. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The curse of post purchase surveys

I recently had my Internet connection upgraded at home. The technician was there for roughly 20 minutes, in which time frame he installed the Coax connection.

Less than half an hour after his visit, I received a text message asking me to rate my experience. I was kind of baffled by the question, as I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to rate the way he rang my door bell, or the way he entered my home, or how he way he sat quietly in the corner of my living room doing his job. Because that’s what he did – his job. I wasn’t sure how to respond to the survey, as I didn’t see how my experience could have been improved. I was indifferent. Or to put it differently, I guess my experience lived up to my minimum expectations. The minimum expectation being that I had a working Internet connection once the technician had left.

What is the purpose of post purchase surveys?

Post purchase surveys are here to stay. The trend seems to be to seek out feedback from the existing customer base and ask for feedback on some part of their experience. However, there are some inherent problems with performing these surveys.

the purpose of post purchase surveys

Firstly, I guess the real issue is to understand what the core purpose of post purchase surveys is. If it’s to understand and improve the customer experience of the existing customers, then it’s obviously a great idea to shoot someone an email containing a survey with a few questions.

 

However, the surveyor should be aware that by segmenting their visitors in this way, they exclude an important segment, who’s voice is important.

Shoe store example

Imagine that you are the proud owner of a shoe store. Within one hour, three potential customers enter your store. Two of them purchase a pair of shoes each. The third leaves without buying anything. This is not an unlikely scenario, as research shows that one in three customers leave a retail store empty handedly.

post purchase survey in shoe store

Now, if you had to choose between which one of the three you would like feedback from, which one would you pick? Well, if you’re the type of business owner or a store manager who wants your shoe store to grow through improved customer experience, then you know that you would have to pick the non-purchaser, right? The customers who already made a purchase has, by their actions, already proven that what you had to offer was enough to convince them to purchase.

Sure, by asking about her experience you can fine-tune the customer experience. But if these surveys are supposed to help understand customer experiences, then why only settle for the purchasing customer base?

Post purchase surveys surely serve a purpose, but for it to make sense, you should ask everybody, not only the ones who purchase.

Choosing convenience over curiosity

post purchase surveys are convenientThere are several reasons why many businesses within the service and retail industry use post-purchase surveys. The practical reasons include: Customer contact data is readily available and hence it’s easy to send off an email.

Secondly, if data about the purchase itself is available then the survey response is further enriched by this data. This makes it an important data set for further analysis.

Finally, the feedback that you receive from people who chose to do business with you, is already segmented. That means that you are probably going to get feedback that resonates well with the self image that you have created for yourself. In other words: This is the kind of feedback that will contribute to sustaining status quo.

Focus on the non-purchasers and learn more

On the other hand, obtaining feedback from non-purchasers is tricky. Contact details may not be available, which means that you have to rely on a pull strategy to attract your responders. Data about the purchase isn’t available, and the feedback could potentially be more difficult to work with.

So why go for the non-purchasers? Well, I would argue that it’s because the feedback that you least want to hear (and let’s face it, the people who didn’t purchase are probably inclined to criticize something in your store) is often the feedback that you learn the most from.

However, being open to receiving that kind of feedback isn’t for everyone. It depends on what kind of feedback culture that exists in the organization and that’s an entirely different blog post!

Be sure to stay tuned for new posts, visit some of our most recent blog post here.

The learning curve of curious organisations

Background

I have worked with retail organizations over the past 10 years. In that time I have come to learn a few things about the dynamics within them. In this blog post, I want to shed light on what happens when curious organisations start new customer experience projects. Initial high focus from C-level management and well-meaning intentions from many places in the organisation can often lead to misguided attempts to acquire information about your customers. The consequence being fewer answers harvested, too complex data sets and – more importantly, annoyed customers. The objective of this blog entry is to share some of our experiences. Hopefully it will also inspire curious organisations to reflect on the findings below and maybe stay clear of the pitfalls.

New project, new interest

Many of you have probably tried this: Your organisation is on the verge of implementing new technology. Many people involve themselves in order to have impact on the implementation because it’s new and it has management’s attention. This new technology could be a physical, in-store feedback system like tabsurvey.

curious organisations

All of the necessary hardware, software and services are in place in order to roll out the system. Now it’s time to decide what to ask your customers. People from HR are involved. They want to know how customers feel about the store employees’ ability to assist the customers. The sales department are keen to find out if the customers were offered any complementary products and accessories. Store operations want to learn if the customers like the new store merchandising and marketing thinks it’s pivotal to understand if the customers came by because of the latest Facebook campaign.

In this setup curious organisations that are large and consensus-driven struggle to keep a specific focus for the survey. The result is – unfortunately – a compromise. Everybody gets a chance to influence the questionnaire, and the influences are many. In our time working with retail clients, we have seen surveys with 30 questions – all pointing in different directions. Not exactly the kind of survey that a visiting customer would answer quickly while shopping.

The customers suffer

“Feedback is a gift” as they say. So why make it so difficult to give it? Customers that genuinely want to give some feedback on the experience they’ve had are often facing lengthy surveys that focus on everything from their socio-economic status to whether or not they were able to locate the new organic products.

 

listen to the customer

The result is both low completion rates and the risk of annoying the hell out of your customer. You may even risk impacting your cNPS (Customer Net Promoter Score) negatively, which seems futile, considering the entire point of the project in the first place.

We have heard of examples where companies – in addition to asking their customers more than 20 questions, also demanded that each and every respondent give up their full name, email address and telephone number. But why? Would the customer’s experience be less valid because they were anonymous? In today’s IOT reality with transactional surveys popping up everywhere and surveys embedded on most websites, the competition for the respondent’s time is fierce. Therefore, each moment of time that you ask from your customer, should be well worth their time. That means that they should have a valid opinion about the topic and feel that they are really making a difference to the surveyor (you).

Less action, more talk

Less action and more talk may not be the ideal outcome of a customer experience management project, but none the less this could be the end result. Long surveys produce even longer datasets. Due to the many focus areas, too many people are involved in interpreting the results, creating a sense of shared responsibility. And as we all know if everybody shares the responsibility then eventually nobody owns up to it.

Take-aways for curious organisations

Conducting surveys should never become an objective in itself. They should merely serve as a necessary means to reach an objective. “Well obviously”, many will say, but in large organisations things have away of getting complex very fast, due to inherent nature of the organisation itself.

The assertive project leader should be asking herself and her group:

  • “What’s the purpose of this project?”
  • “What do we want to accomplish or avoid with the information this survey will give us?”
  • “How do we act on it, in order to make the necessary changes?”

Well, although these are valid questions, project leaders often don’t ask them because they are hard to answer and could in turn lead to even more comprehensive projects. In order to try to counter some if these driving forces, we have gathered some recommendations for curious organisations in the following.

  • Keep your survey short and focused. Read more about this topic in this blog
  • When changing focus of a survey, be sure to keep one or two baseline questions that you always ask. This will ensure continuity in your surveys over time. The questions should be key to your operational goals and support your overall business strategy (e.g. for a fast food restaurant: “Was your meal warm when you received it?” or “Did our staff meet you with a smile today?”)
  • Place your survey in convenient places for the respondent (customer)
  • Be sure that customer surveys stay top-of-mind in your organisation by involving key stakeholders and distributing relevant, easy-to-translate reporting to management and the customer-facing colleagues.

 

Be sure to tune back in again soon!

 

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