Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty-one Years of Service to the Student

Dining Services

Dining Survey Dilemma

“The comment surveys in the cafeteria.” (Van Forsman / The Index)

I walked into the coffee shop where I work two weeks ago, and on my way in I spotted a stack of papers. I looked towards my boss, who confirmed my fears: the dining survey results were in.

Around eighth week of last quarter, students, faculty, and staff received a link to take a survey to evaluate how Creative Dining was doing to meet customer expectations, and give feedback on what we were doing well, and what could use improvement.

As far as the Book Club goes, we received many helpful and constructive comments, such as the overwhelming desire to have extended meal swipe hours, and the importance of having a better method of displaying our specials.

Those comments are what is great and helpful about the dining surveys, since we can improve in these areas and strive to improve to better customer experiences.

However, those comments have been overshadowed by terrible comments, such as “you are all pathetic excuses for coffee baristas” and “It’s nice that you hire students, but…I feel like they don’t work that hard.” Another commenter decided to describe workers only by their size and race.

Sadly, comments like these have been in all the dining survey results from previous years, and the ones from this year were rather tame compared to last years’ insults.

When we read comments like this, the only way we can justify them is by arguing that they don’t care about the survey, and that it was a joke. Then, we disregard the whole thing, because that’s easier than really believing than someone thinks I’m a pathetic barista.

Not only are these comments unnecessary and rude, they also ruin the purpose of using the dining surveys in the first place. This is because there is a psychological concept called “negativity bias” which shows that people are more inclined to remember and look for criticism. Even though these comments didn’t make up the vast majority of the suggesting we received, they are all we can focus on.

For that reason, these comments make the dining surveys no longer an effective way for us to really listen to customer voices, since the negative comments will continue to outweigh the positive, and prevent us from taking them seriously.

For the future, I hope that individuals think twice before writing hurtful comments, and instead channel their frustrations into constructive criticism that Dining Services can do something about.

We want to make your experience as enjoyable as possible, but we will not answer to childish rhetoric.

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Dining Survey Dilemma