NIC panelist shreds providers on satisfaction surveys

Margaret Wylde, president and CEO of market researcher ProMatura Group, LLC, was pretty blunt this afternoon in an NIC Regional Symposium breakout session when discussing customer satisfaction surveys, likening them to, ahem, something that could be flushed down the toilet.

The problem with these surveys is the way LTC providers currently interpret the results, Wylde said. There is no meaningful application of the findings to provider services. She argued many providers will simply add the percentages of very satisfied and satisfied respondents together, creating an inflated score for both peace of mind and more attractive marketing.

Here’s why that’s not smart analysis: “Satisfied people do not recommend your community,” Wylde said. “Four times more people who are very satisfied will recommend your community.”

Wylde presented some research to support her argument, showing that in one study, 74% of very satisfied respondents were likely to recommend the community to a friend. That same attitude was only shared by 19% of satisfied respondents.

Wylde’s elements that predict high occupancy

Good location

Satisfaction with residence

Quality of daily life

Quality and flexibility of dining

Quality of personnel

Sense of belonging and home

(All of which help lead to very satisfied customers)

At this point, providers must be thinking that customers who are simply satisfied—or worse, discontented—could be hurting occupancy levels. But that is only one way of interpreting the data.

Why not ask those respondents who aren’t very satisfied how they would like to see the facility be improved? It’s an opportunity to retrieve valuable customer feedback about bettering facility services, and a lot of providers are missing out, Wylde said.

Her presentation was eerily reminiscent of my college job working at a local grocery chain in Ohio. Once a year the company would compile all of the customer satisfaction feedback and use it as a means to collectively reprimand each department in the store on its failings. Instead of discussing creative solutions to customer complaints, management opted to negatively reinforce bad employee trends. Employees ignored the warnings, and management would hear the same complaints a year later. The action of surveying customers for their opinions to better the business was therefore rendered inert.

This mindset, that collecting customer satisfaction data simply helps to gauge consumer attitude, fails both the business and the respondent. By addressing only the problems, the provider is doing only half of the work. As Wylde said, reviewing comments and criticisms about a business presents opportunity for providers to be creative and improve their services, but they must put in the effort.

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