When Good Customer Experience Surveys Turn Bad.

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Is there such a thing as a ‘bad’ Patient Experience Survey?


You betcha!

Over the years, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the simply appalling.


Not too long ago, I had a minor surgical eye procedure which entailed multiple preliminary visits for scans and consultation, followed by a rather scary operation and post-op consultation. During the final visit, I was asked to fill out a “Patient Satisfaction Survey” form. Being in the “biz” I figured I ought to walk the talk and contribute to the cause.


Still with a patch over one eye, I was handed a dog-eared 6th generation photocopy of a two page form with over 30 questions and responses, which I was expected to complete under the watchful eye of a member of the practice staff. Apart from; being almost illegible, the intimidating circumstances and the poorly worded questions, I duly completed the form and watched in amazement as the staff member placed it in an open file tray on her desk.


I was left with the overall impression that the practice was merely paying lip service to the idea of asking for patient feedback. If they actually took it seriously, they would surely not be taking such a cavalier approach.


So what makes for a bad survey?

  • Convoluted survey instructions.
  • Too many questions.
  • Irrelevant questions.
  • Poorly phrased questions and loaded response options.
  • Failure to ask the questions about what matters to the customer.
  • Lack of opportunity to provide qualitative commentary.
  • Over-emphasis on certain aspects of the patient journey, to the exclusions of others.
  • An overriding impression that it’s just an afterthought and not being taken seriously.


A 2016 US study of online reviews of medical practices found that 96% of complaints found fault with the customer service – not the quality of care.

That was certainly my own experience at that eye clinic, though I doubt the questionnaire I completed will have any impact whatsoever.