My older daughter started kindergarten this year, so it’s been a busy, exciting, and hectic couple of weeks for us. Unfortunately, part of what’s made this time so hectic is the mountain of paperwork we’ve had to fill out for the school office, the classroom, the school nurse, and the after-school program. Now, I understand why they need detailed medical forms, emergency forms, and dismissal permission forms. What I don’t understand is why I have had to fill out the exact same information about three hundred times now. Isn’t there some kind of centralized database that captures my child’s information and makes it available to all the different teachers and administrators that need it?

Of course, the short answer in this case is that public schools just don’t have the budgets for centralized computer systems. While this is frustrating, it’s something I just have to deal with. However, it did get me thinking about how inefficient our business processes sometimes are and how we often ask customers and employees to supply information we already have.

How many times have we all asked customers, employees, leads or vendors to fill our surveys or forms with information we already know about them, such as name, department, company, product purchased, etc? Can you imagine how much more efficient we all would be if the information gatherers didn’t have to spend time piecing together data and the information providers didn’t waste time filling out useless info or complaining about the useless info they just filled out?

Certainly there are times when it makes sense to make a form or survey anonymous in order to get honest feedback, so you have to balance your priorities. For instance, our general customer satisfaction surveys are done anonymously so that customers can feel comfortable being completely honest with us. That means that we unfortunately have to ask them questions we would have already known the answers to, such as “Which Checkbox product(s) do you use?”  While it may annoy some customers slightly to have to provide this information, the benefits of anonymity and more honest feedback outweigh any negatives.

No matter what decisions you make regarding the information you ask of your customers, employees, vendors, etc., make sure that every question is well thought out and has a purpose. Think creatively about how you can integrate your databases or link together information from different sources. When you use the information you already have wisely, you’ll improve efficiency, response rates, and the quality of your data.

For information on how Checkbox Surey Software can help you gather data more efficiently, contact sales at 866-430-8274 or sales@checkbox.com.