customer satisfaction

Have You Created a Survey for Your Sports Facility?

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When my son was five and had great enthusiasm for building with blocks, a friend of mine asked him if he’s going to be an engineer when he grows up. “Maybe when I retire from professional soccer,” he replied. Almost from the time he took his first step, the kid has known that sports will always be an important part of his life. And so, since more or less that time, and he’s eight now, he’s used sports facilities of various sorts, engaging in some kind of training or game or competition or workout. But it was only recently that a facility did something that seemed so obvious I couldn’t believe I hadn’t encountered it before: It offered me a chance to fill out a survey.

The facility is a huge, multi-sports complex that caters to all ages. My son joined a soccer league there this fall. When the season ended a couple weeks ago, I got an email asking me to fill out a survey online about our experiences with the facility. Now, I don’t fill out every survey request that comes my way, but I leapt at the chance to do this one. Youth sports are so central to my life, as they have become central to so many families’ lives; like it or not, our plans revolve around when practice is, when games are, what the weekend commitment will be, and where tournaments are taking place. So it seemed important to make my voice heard in this regard, and I welcomed the chance to do it.

What impressed me was how thorough the survey was. There were questions you’d expect: “What sport is being evaluated?” “What gender is your child?” “What grade is your child in?” But then there were more intriguing questions: “What gender is your child’s coach?” “Did you play sports during high school or college? If so, at what level?” And then statements with which to “strongly agree” or “disagree,” or to remain neutral about: “The coach is approachable”, “The coach defines success as more than winning/losing”, “The coach treats players with respect.” Other questions solicited opinions about the coaches’ and facility’s communications with parents, about ways in which participating in the given sport helped the child, about what sources of information were being considered while answering these questions (discussions with children, coaches, or other parents, for example).

I realized that as much as the survey allowed me to voice my opinion, it also allowed the facility to gather an enormous amount of feedback about how its operations align with its clientele’s values. I liked almost everything about the facility, for example, but I did not feel that it made its Athletic Handbook policies clear to parents, and I heard other parents voicing the same complaint. If we all note on our surveys that this is an issue, will things improve? Will we know more about the policies upfront, and be kept better informed about what is expected of us and our children? That remains to be seen, but at least the facility now knows that that’s what we want.

Have you created a survey for your sports facility? Websites like surveymonkey.com make it easier than ever to design and distribute surveys. If you haven’t done it yet, think about all the data you can gather to help you better gear your services to your clientele. Better serving them can lead only to desirable outcomes — I know I’ll definitely be signing my son up for soccer lessons at the facility this spring.

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