Those painful customer service surveys

Over the past 50 years, I have had the opportunity to use, and be involved extensively in our healthcare system. I have had eight surgeries. Interestingly enough, one of those surgeries was completed by a robot that a doctor operated. At one point in my career, I served as a safety manager and helped employees with health issues. I have seen healthcare from varied perspectives.

As controversial as it is, many surgical procedures are performed on an out-patient basis. Critics believe that overnight and longer stays are needed. Outside of those controversies, the folks in healthcare do meticulously survey their patients (customers) for satisfaction levels. This is also a common approach to measuring and evaluating customer service in a vast array of businesses.

Have you ever taken the time to complete such a survey? Have you taken the time to praise a business or service when appropriate? Praise is important, too. These surveys are important for the businesses and healthcare providers, as competition is stiff. I know, I always make it a point to “thank” and recognize businesses, doctors, and providers when surveyed. I once had a doctor that made a referral that eventually identified cancer. That referral saved my life. I am forever grateful.

A business that makes a deliberate effort on surveying customers is the baseball touring company that I frequent. When I go on baseball trips, the customers always have surveys handed to them to evaluate all aspects of the trip. Of course, completion of surveys is not only for concerns on the part if the users, it also affords the participant the opportunity to compliment, or comment on something positive. There seems to be too little of the positive thoughts these days. I know that I take the time to compliment and praise where appropriate. When one completes these surveys, it is important to the business to be as specific as possible. Perhaps the business can improve, or the business can compliment one of their own for a job well done.

I have to wonder, though, in businesses and healthcare, I see the folks in charge of customer service taking surveys from external customers. These surveys are taken on paper with a return postage paid envelope, by phone, or even online. What about surveying internal customers? From our lean manufacturing knowledge, we know that as an employee, we have both external and internal customers. I have never worked in healthcare; an appropriate question to ask is: are internal customers (employees) surveyed?

These surveys can be short, or long depending upon the product, service, or organization. Folks using healthcare, in some instances, can expect a “follow-up” phone call checking to make sure all is OK. I love, and dread, the “will you be willing to participate in a phone survey,” after a recent call to a customer service department. These surveys are important to the provider. Next time you receive one, do take the time to complete it.