Parent Feedback Series — Introduction

Date published: May 23rd, 2016 | By Matthew

A Trend Toward Transparency

We ask for feedback. Lots of it.

From our kids, from our parents and from our summer staff: we ask for feedback from everyone, multiple times.

Usually the feedback is positive. And that's good, because we want to know what people like so we can do more of it.

But sometimes the feedback is not good. That's ok too, though, because we want an opportunity to make things right; and we don't want to repeat our mistakes (see: growth experience).

The most important survey of the year is the one we send out to parents after the summer. That's where the rubber meets the road.

For the first time, we're publishing the results from that survey (the 2015 edition).

Why?

We're doing this for a few reasons.

1. To Honor the Parents Who Gave Us Feedback

That survey had nine questions, most of them open-ended. Parents who filled it out were generous with their time. We really appreciate it and want them to know that.

Personally, when I am filling out feedback surveys, I often wonder two things: "Will anybody ever read this?" and "What did other people say?"

In the case of the 2015 Post-Summer Parents Survey, the answers to those two questions are "yes" and "you can see for yourself".

2. To Highlight A Few Things We're Proud Of

As you might imagine, some of our parents said some really nice things. It's not often that we (people in general) get to talk about things we're proud of. Saying things we're proud of can sometimes be interpreted (or misinterpreted) as boasting.

But we don't see it that way. We think saying things we're proud of is good. It can help us understand ourselves better. And it can help our friendsunderstand ourselves better too.

So, we'll take the opportunity to say some things we're proud of.

3. To Ensure We Make Adjustments

Asking for feedback is important, but by itself it's not enough.

There has to be a system in place for responding to the feedback — for making adjustments.

So, in a way, publishing these responses makes it so there's nowhere to hide (sorta like a restaurant being reviewed on Yelp). It forces us to make adjustments. It's like a check and balance.

It reminds me of the Cortés story ("burn the boats") that is often told in business books. Cortés lands on the beach and then burns his boats, forcing his men to fight for their lives. (Obviously our situation is not that serious but you get my point.)

The Post-Summer Parents Survey

We sent out surveys to all parents (110 families). We received 45 responses. (I was very pleased.) We have permission to publish 44 of the 45 responses.

Here were the nine questions:

  1. Why did you send your child to Longacre?
  2. Overall how would you rate your experience with us?
  3. What is the one thing we could do to create a better experience for you?
  4. What was the most frustrating part of your experience with us, from first inquiry to final pick up?
  5. Would you refer us to other families? If so, why?
  6. What social networks do you use to keep in touch with your friends?
  7. What does Longacre do better than other summer camps?
  8. Have you seen transformations in your child since he or she arrived home? If yes, what?
  9. Can we put your responses on our website if we remove any information that could be used to identify you, your child or your family?

You probably don't care about #6 and #9 so we won't publish those. But we will publish the rest.

Yikes!

There's a part of this that really scares me.

Like what if you read something you don't like? Will you not like us anymore?

But I think that's kinda the point. We're burning our boats; forcing our hand. Our only option is to do our best, be transparent and demonstrate our loyalty to our parents. And that's what we want.

Editing

Re: editing, I have edited out all personally identifiable information, so you'll see lots of [her] and [my son] — that kind of thing. We're maintaining our parents' anonymity because that's what they agreed to when they said we could publish their stuff.

But other than that I haven't edited anything. (Gulp.)

Responses in Subsequent Posts

We'll put up the responses in separate posts as quickly as we can. After all the responses are up, we'll do one post on takeaways and one on what we're proud of. And that'll be it. Thanks for reading.

Update 08/18/16: Responses are up.