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A new approach to surveying customers is paying off for the 3sHealth Provincial Linen Services (PLS) team by providing prompt feedback and opportunities to address issues instantly.
Over the past year, the PLS team has replaced its model of an annual province-wide survey with a year-round, more localized survey distribution. In addition to distributing online survey links to operational committees and other partners throughout the year, PLS leaders often place surveys in the hands of customers during site visits at health care facilities.
“We visit every single site in the province, every single year,” says Jennifer Fetch, the lead for linen services in the south portion of the province. “We thought, ‘why don’t we use that opportunity to share the survey’?”
The survey is intentionally brief and specific, with two core questions asking customers to rate their level of satisfaction (“very satisfied” to “very dissatisfied”) with the quality of linen services and with the linens themselves. The survey is anonymous; however, respondents are asked to identify as patients/residents/family members, clinical staff, or support services staff, and to name the facility whose linen services they are rating. Respondents are also asked to provide a name and contact information if they would like a linen team member to follow up.
“Every week, when we look at the bunch of surveys on our desk, we can actually respond,” Jennifer says. “If we hear, for example, that a specific item has seen an increased number of defects, we know to work with our team on the process and get the specific issue fixed.”
The benefit of this approach was strikingly illustrated during a recent visit to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. Jacqueline Edwards, 3sHealth's lead for linen services in the north, was at the hospital for a meeting and brought with her a survey recently received from a staff member, who had expressed concerns that the cart used to deliver medical scrubs to her department was too small.
“We decided to pop over and follow up on this survey directly,” Jacqueline says.“The staff member put her name on the survey, so that helped, but even if she'd just named the department, we could have spoken to the manager.”
As it happened, the staff member was present – and pleasantly surprised by the personal follow-up, which resulted in a solution to the cart issue by the end of the day.
“As we were walking out the door, she said, 'I didn't think anybody would read that, and I really didn't think anybody would come and talk to me about it’,” Jacqueline recalls.
The steady stream of feedback afforded by year-round surveying also allows the PLS team to quickly identify themes in respondents’ comments, or to be made aware of a successful process or initiative that is improving services at a particular site.
“If you survey once a year, someone can bring up an issue from nine months ago, and the issue’s never been fixed,” Jennifer Fetch says. “This way, you get ahead of things a little bit quicker.”