Last week, we thought about ways to gather client feedback on your service. One of the most popular ways is via surveys or questionnaires. I think this is a really great way to get feedback, however, we must remember to design them well to ensure they are completed and returned. Here are my 5 tips for planning your patient feedback surveys.
1. Begin with a cover letter that outlines the purpose of the survey (for example, evaluating your strengths and weaknesses). Let them know in this letter that the survey results will be anonymous. I often include a sentence letting them know if there are particular areas of their experience they would like to talk to us about in person, to call the rooms and ask to speak to me directly.
2. Keep them short. They should take no more than 3 - 5 minutes to complete. Usually, two pages are enough, I would not suggest going over that. Print them double sided to save on paper, however, make sure you tell your clients to turn over the page so they don’t miss any of the questions.
3. Keep the font an adequate size. Making your font size smaller to fit more on a page can make it really hard for your clients to complete. Think about your audience and ensure they will be able to read your survey clearly without a magnifying glass! Lay the survey out clearly so it is logical to follow.
4. Using answer choices that are easy to quantify is the best option. You might choose to have one or two open-ended questions at the end for comments, for example, “What was your favourite thing about your experience with us?” The majority of the other questions, however, should be either 'yes' or 'no' answers or multiple choice. Think out your questions well and don’t rush the design of your questionnaire. Something to be mindful of is asking a question like “Please rate your experience of your initial appointment”, and providing a scale for them to answer with. If someone answered 'highly satisfied' and someone else answered 'completely dissatisfied' how will you know which aspects of the assessment they are referring to? Was it that they couldn’t get through on the phone to make a time, they couldn’t get an appointment at a time they wanted, or they didn’t get any information on where to come, the therapist was unfriendly, it didn’t meet their goals and so on. Ask what you want to know directly. "Did you find your therapist friendly?" "Did you receive adequate information about where to come, costs involved, etc., prior to your appointment?" These kinds of questions will allow clients to provide you with the feedback you need to make any changes.
5. Think about how they will return the surveys. I include self-addressed and stamped envelopes for clients to return their surveys. You may ask them to drop them into a box in your rooms. The clever design of your form before printing may include a folding system that turns your sheet into an envelope ready for sending.