Sunday, September 04, 2011

We're interested, but only if you are quick

I'd like to give American Airlines credit for being interested in customers' opinions: A computer sent out this email three days after a recent trip.  But, then it put this odd deadline on the survey.  I guess my opinion doesn't matter if I need think about it for a while.


e-Patient Dave said...

I can't speak authoritatively, but I have to say: there's something to be said for getting impressions before the event is too far back in people's memory.

For instance, as wonderful as my medical care was at Beth Israel Deaconess, there were times when I wanted to write you and say "Hello??? Do you have any idea how stupid these Press Ganey surveys are??"

They asked all kinds of valid questions, but the survey NEVER arrived promptly while that visit was fresh. Worse, there was a time when I was in and out of the hospital for different things, and a survey would arrive and not even say which visit it was about!

I found myself wondering, "Hey Paul, is this a pro forma 'We gotta spend the money on this because everyone says we gotta,' or are you actually basing any decisions on the results they report?"

Personally, I'm far more interested in whether a company does anything constructive with the results of the survey. And as with anything else that gathers data, the ability to act on it productively depends largely on the quality of the data.

[Having said that, I do think they could have been more user-friendly in their wording.]

One more thing - it's GREAT when a survey accepts open-ended comments. Too many surveys are "We'll tell YOU want data we want," and don't take the opportunity to gather valuable other comments for management. Do you recall if this one did? If not, I'll guess that it was created for AA by Dogbert Associates. :)

Paul Levy said...


The Press-Ganey survey (including format, timing, questions) is the one required by CMS nowadays.

e-Patient Dave said...

Fascinating! I'll have a word with CMS, then. :-) Maybe THEY can use THEIR market power to get the survey improved!

Jasmine said...

In my experience, with health-related surveying, whether you're gathering patient or general consumer satisfaction, best practice is to limit "recall bias." When asking a participant to answer a question about an experience that took place too long ago, the accuracy of the response decreases and is no longer useful. It sounds like American Airlines is only interested in responses immediately after trips to ensure that analysis of the data is reliable.