Could you be using faulty information to make some of your decisions? Read on and see.
Today, consumers have an overwhelming amount of information they're able to research before choosing products and service providers. One type of information is surveys. Marketers use survey results to influence our decisions in almost every field: health care, fashion, politics, religion, food, travel, tourism etc. Those same groups use the results of consumer satisfaction surveys to shape their future products and services. But, just how valuable are survey results?
During a phone survey, I asked for clarification on one of the questions. The survey taker's response was, "It's however you interpret the question." Let's look at a specific scenario to see how that works.
A hospital survey asks, "Did you receive patient-centered care while you were at our facility?" Dean Metz's post, "Patient-Centered Care... Not," and the comments that follow show how the term "patient-centered care" can be interpreted at least three ways:
1. Medical care results in the patient having a positive perception of the experience.
2. The patient's best interests are the driving force behind medical decisions (as opposed to the facility's finances, for example).
3. The patient is the decision-maker and thus included in all discussions.
The patient who is filling out this survey hates making decisions and grew up believing a doctor should tell a patient what to do. While in the hospital, the patient was present for every medical team discussion. The medical team asked him to make decisions about his care.
The patient's interpretation of the survey question will determine how he answers.
-If he uses definition #1, his answer is NO, because he did not have a pleasant experience.
-If he uses definition #2, his answer is NO, because he believes his interests are best served when a doctor tells him what to do.
-If he uses definition #3, his answer is YES, because he was included in discussions and expected to make his own decisions.
If respondents give answers based on their interpretations of what the question is asking, their answers may not reflect their true beliefs about what the survey is actually asking. In fact, the respondents could be providing answers to a question that wasn't even asked.
A survey's validity depends largely on the quality of the questions it asks. Survey responses may reflect the question's clarity (or lack of it) more accurately than they measure the parameters the survey was designed to assess. Since poorly constructed questions can result in flawed conclusions, surveys are at risk of providing incorrect information and should be weighed carefully with other types of input.