Use the Data

Key Actions

  • Use the data inside your organization to improve your programs and services and build staff skills
  • Use the data outside your organization to communicate your successes to your community and other key stakeholders 

You have your data.  What will you do with it?  Do not put the data on a shelf. Instead, consider carefully what the findings mean — and then act based on the results. Acting based on survey findings shows your customers and community the level of importance you and your agency place on constructive feedback.

  • Open or CloseUsing Data Inside Your Organization

    Here are three steps for using survey data to improve your programming and build staff skills:

    1. Identify “bright spots” and spread them: 

    A. What is your agency doing well? What positive trends do you see in the feedback?  Can you apply those bright spots to other agency amenities and programming?

    B. For example, if your survey focuses on customer service experiences in your aquatics programming, can apply any of those practices apply to other agency offerings?

    2. Identify opportunities for improvement and address them: 

    A. What areas do residents and park users identify as potential areas for improvement?

    B. Are any of these issues ones that your team can easily address in the near term? If so, make a brief action plan that includes the next steps, staff roles and, most importantly, deadlines to meet.

    C. Will resolving some of the identified issues involve a significant overhaul of policies or require new or additional resources?

    3. Build a culture of continuous improvement:

    A. Have an open dialog with your team on the key findings from your feedback surveys.

    B. These follow-up conversations should be: 

        (a)   Detailed and specific enough to be useful;

        (b)   Open and direct; but also

        (c)   Constructive (not punitive)

    C. Avoid blame.  Zeroing in on the problem—and potential next steps—will keep the focus on the issues (and avoid the personal).

    Two final points on data analysis:

    1. Do not jump to conclusions over a single data point or comment. Data at the extremes—positive or negative—should not be discarded but placed into context. Does one negative comment reflect a broader trend not identified by other respondents? Or, does it represent a unique situation that does not necessitate a full overhaul of processes and offerings? If it looks like a data point is on an island, do not let it sway your decision making. Rather, focus on trends across the results and comments.

    2. If available, look at other data sources in conjunction with your survey results. There may be social media posts from residents, or other sources of input, that you should look at to inform your survey data analysis. By doing so, the survey results will not exist in a vacuum. Indeed, you may derive valuable context from other community input sources that will help explain some of the survey responses.

  • Open or CloseUsing Data Outside Your Organization

    The key findings from your feedback surveys may be of interest and importance to audiences outside your agency. Park and recreation agencies impact lives in their communities. The feedback you receive from your community is one way to share the impact your agency’s amenities and programming are having. Even negative feedback can be an outreach opportunity. Publicly sharing the lessons learned from feedback surveys and the actions your agency will be taking to address those concerns builds trust and confidence in your agency. This will, in turn, keep residents engaged in your agency’s programming going forward. 

    Answer the following questions to guide how you communicate survey results to your community: 

    * Who are your main audiences?  Neighborhood associations? Local park conservancies? City/county council? The media?

    * What are their priorities?  What positive and negative feedback did you receive? How does that feedback connect to what is important to your audiences?

    * What venue is most appropriate to reach them? The medium can have a powerful effect on the message. Here are some possibilities for how to package both positive and negative feedback:


    * Short videos

    * Social media posts

    * Visual one-pagers

    * Infographics

    * PowerPoint presentations


    * Issue-focused meetings with relevant audiences, focused on what you heard from them, and next steps

    * Invite additional feedback

    What you do with your community’s feedback sends a strong message that you respect its views.  Acting on that feedback not only engenders trust but also enhances community engagement with your agency, whether through improved participation in programming or greater advocacy from the public.

    Infographic Examples

    Below are a few examples of clearly communicating results via infographics. You will notice that these posts have: 

    * A simple, unified, clear message

    * Easily digestible data points displayed prominently

    * Eye-catching visuals that support the message

    * Enough information to be interesting, but not enough to overwhelm the reader

        - Various infographic examples from Active Living Research and the CDC

        - A very effective series of impact infographics from Tacoma, WA Metro Parks

        - Anchorage Park Foundation infographics, detailing their organization’s recent accomplishments

Step 1: Set The Survey Goals

surveys customer feedback step one set goals 410

What do you want to achieve with the survey? What information do you most need to glean from the survey results? Based on those results, what actions will you take?

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Step 2: Create The Survey

surveys customer feedback step two create 410

Design a survey questionnaire so that responses provide you with actionable results. At the same time, participating in the survey should be a high-quality customer experience. Keep the questions (and the survey as a whole) short and to the point.

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Step 3: Conduct The Survey

surveys customer feedback step three conduct 410

Identify the survey method that best suits your needs. Look for tips on how to achieve a high response rate.

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