Getting it right: the survey series part 1


In the past customer satisfaction and market research surveys were mostly conducted by research companies. Today, web and mobile technology, increased processing power, single-version-of-the-truth dashboard reporting and user friendly analytical tools has put the capability to conduct meaningful surveys within the reach of the smallest company or department. But surveying is often misunderstood and misapplied.

Surveys can reduce new product and other risk; generate insights about employees, customers, and markets; and align PR, advertising, and other communications programs with target constituencies. However, if the survey process is managed poorly, it can derail strategy and generate misguided marketing, customer service, and communications plans and damage the business’ reputation.

What is a survey?

The concept of surveys is sometimes used interchangeably with a questionnaire. However, the questionnaire is one element that contains the questions devised for collecting data. A survey is a process in which quantitative information is systematically collected from a relatively large sample taken from a large group of interest, known as a population. It is a research strategy and the underlying principles of a survey therefore are still subjected to research design principles.
A survey has a specific purpose, goals and objectives. The research design is planned, taking in consideration the data collection method and instrument and sample group. Once the data is collected, it is processed and analyzed and the required actions are taken.
Taking all these factors in consideration is important, for example, if a specific survey is targeting a slightly older age group (say, 35 to 44), using social media solely might not be the most appropriate data collection method.

Why survey customers?

Knowing what our customer’s perceptions are of our products or services can help us to make key business decisions and to continuously improve. It is therefore important to take in account that the customer’s perception and objective reality is not the same. Perception can be influenced by external or internal factors. The survey should therefore be comprehensive enough to gain data that reflects the “moment of truth” as accurate as possible, but also concise enough not to lose the interest of the respondent. The key to an effective survey would be eliminating as much interference that may result in biased skewed data in order to ensure the right business decisions are taken.

Over the next few weeks we will explore the survey design process in more detail and focus on what you need to know to get it right.

Touchwork @ The AHF (Association for Healthcare Foodservice) 2014 Annual Conference in Orlando


The Hospital foodservices sector is finding itself amidst various demands and pressures from both the customer and administration alike – with an increasing emphasis on “Hospitality” and customer satisfaction as a core competency, quality, healthy dining amongst patients, visitors and employees, cost management, “Business Dining” and introduction of new points of services & patient service models.

For many hospitals, healthy cafeterias draw in new and repeat customers from the surrounding area, expanding its reach to the potential market. These new customers have great implications for a foodservice sector traditionally known for revenue neural profits. The foodservice sector is veering away from being only functional in terms of meeting nutritional requirements; instead it has become a new-found means to provide quality customer service. The net results are higher patient satisfaction scores and revenues for the facilities they serve.

In an attempt to become more innovative, healthcare foodservice operators have turned to increased training, working collaboratively with their peers to emulate other successful concepts, and putting a new twist on existing technologies and even partnering with national brands. The AHF (Association for Healthcare Foodservice) 2014 Annual Conference in Orlando presented an opportunity for the industry to showcase these best practices. The AHF represents self-operated healthcare foodservice teams all over the USA. It strives to raise the benchmark for foodservice and hospitality services in both acute care and long-term care facilities. It covers both retail dining services (cafeterias) for staff, visitors and patients and as well as in room foodservices for patients.

Touchwork attended and exhibited at the AHF 2014 Annual Conference in Orlando between the 3rd and 6th June. The show was well attended with over 400 C-level conference attendees. The conference recognised the similarities among healthcare foodservice operators: we share the same challenges and aspirations and we can benefit from the same solutions. Touchwork enjoyed the unique position as sole exhibitor to offer a customer experience measurement product including its real-time customer feedback and mystery shopping solutions. Our booth attracted many visitors since our solution of providing instant actionable feedback resonated well with operators in the health sector.

We already have a presence in the healthcare foodservice sector and are planning to expand our market share significantly over the following year as we have done in the University dining sector. “With the need to enhance the retail foodservice and patient dining experience in healthcare operations, Touchwork is well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity with its proven customer experience measurement solutions,” said Johann Leitner, CEO Touchwork USA.

We thoroughly enjoyed the educational sessions, lively networking events and great food.

Best practice series: Tip #9 – Include website feedback

Expand the use of your TxtandTell portal – add website feedback

  • Simply include a web link on your dining website
  • Let students select any location and provide feedback
  • Feedback is immediately emailed to location managers

All feedback stored in the TxtandTell portal

  • Managers can send a reply by email or text message
  • Moderate and publish comments to digital comment boards
  • Manage all feedback using one portal and one process
  • Save time, enhance service, improve the customer experience


Best practice series: Tip #7 – Offer an incentive…and announce the winners!

  • Everyone likes to win something so provide an incentive for giving feedback.
  • Offer a monthly drawing – for example, a $25 gift card or similar reward.
  • Keep your promise…select and announce the winners each month!
  • This takes less than 60 seconds to do using the TxtandTell Quickdraw option.
  • Use the TxtandTell Digital Comment Board tickertape to showcase the winner.
  • Doing this builds trust with students and encourages them to provide ongoing feedback.

About TxtandTell tip of the week


Based on the experiences of many different schools using the TxtandTell realtime student feedback/digital comment board program, Touchwork is sharing some best practices with users.

Best practice series: Tip #6 – Consolidate all customer feedback!

Here are 6 easy steps to consolidate all customer feedback:

  1. Use the TxtandTell portal to manage customer feedback from all channels using a common process.
  • Text message feedback
  • QR code/mobile web feedback
  • Dining website feedback
  • Dining app feedback
  • Twitter feedback
  • Email feedback
  1. Manual comment card feedback
  2. Link your dining website feedback form to TxtandTell – get instant email alerts when customers submit the form.
  3. If you have a dining app, include a feedback option and also link it to the TxtandTell portal
  4. View all comments in one portal…this saves time and avoids having to log in to different systems
  5. Use the same process to analyze and respond to all feedback
  6. Surprise customers by acting on feedback in a timely manner.


Best practice series: Tip #5 – Use eye-catching marketing materials

Increase student response rate by following these basic marketing tools and tips

  • Ask students for their feedback using attractive and eye-catching marketing materials in each location.
  • Ensure these materials are visible…if students don’t see them, they cannot respond.
  • Use a combination of posters, napkin holder cards, table tents, business cards…whatever works in your environment.
  • Update these materials every six months using new graphics, colors, images.
  • Boost your response rates by making it easy for students to follow the instructions and send their feedback.


Best practice series: Tip #4 – You asked…we acted! Highlight the actions taken each Semester

Highlight the main actions you took each semester based on student suggestions and comments. Create a poster or flyer that lists 8 to 10 examples and display/distribute in the dining location.


This further indicates that you are serious about the feedback you are getting from students and are making changes based on their input. It also encourages ongoing feedback and suggestions that helps to identify problems and improve the dining experience.

Listening to the likes and dislikes of your customers and acting on their feedback is key to your success.

Best practice series: Tip #3 – Send a personal “Reply” to each student

Sending a personal reply text message directly to each and every student expresses genuine interest as well as a “personal touch” by dining management and helps build the relationship between students and dining services. Ensure that the reply is appropriate – answers a question, provides more information, thanks them for a compliment, apologizes for problems, etc.

This task is best completed by either the unit manager or the dining services marketing person. Include the name of the person in the message to further personalize the response and build the relationship. It is quick and easy to do – just type the message in the “Reply” column of the TxtandTell portal and send.

A record of the message as well as when it was sent and who sent it is recorded for review and training purposes.

Best practice series: Tip #2 – Use “cool but appropriate” language

When posting manager responses on the TxtandTell Digital Comment Boards, use “cool but appropriate” language with the inclusion of some wit, whenever possible. This will attract the attention of students and inspire an ongoing discussion as opposed to using simple “monotone” replies such as “Thank you for your feedback”.

Answer questions, provide updates, apologize for problems, recognize good performance, thank students for their comments…ensure your responses are honest and sincere – and take the actions you have promised.


Students all follow the latest trends and use a particular style and language when engaging in friendly conversation. It is good practice to “place yourself in their shoes” and use the management responses as a vehicle to encourage an ongoing dialog and elicit further feedback.

To see some good examples of student comments and engaging responses from dining management, please click here