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Data Collection Procedures

    This section describes data collection procedures that should be followed in administering the Visitor Center Comment Card to Visitor Center visitors.

    Materials and Supplies

    • English and/or Spanish language Visitor Center comment cards- enough to meet the day’s quota.
    • Clipboard, if a convenient writing surface is not available.
    • Pencils – don’t expect visitors to supply their own.
    • Copy of survey schedule - to verify the target times for administering comment cards to visitors during the day.
    • Copy of these guidelines.

    Daily Comment Card Quota
    A total of 20 completed comment cards should be obtained from visitors each week during an eight-week sampling season. This total results from a daily quota shown on the sampling calendar that may be different every day of the week.

    The daily quota should be filled using the procedure described in these guidelines. You may choose to obtain additional cards by other distribution methods such as a self-service stack of cards placed on the reference desk. Any comment cards obtained by methods other than the scheduled survey process do not count toward the scheduled survey quota. The quota for the scheduled survey process should be met no matter how many completed comment cards are obtained by other comment card distribution methods.

    Preparing Comment Cards for Use
    Four items should be completed by the survey clerk prior to offering the comment card to the visitor. These include:

    • Visitor Center name.
    • Type of survey.
    • Sampling season.
    • Today’s date.

    This information will be required during data entry. Three of the four items are used to organize the automated reports on each project. Entering this information correctly on the card will help ensure that the summary reports are accurate.

    Recording the Type of Survey on the Visitor Center Comment Card
    The comment card distribution plan you developed using the Survey Schedule Generator for Visitor Centers and the distribution guidelines described here together constitute the standard survey protocol for conducting satisfaction surveys at Visitor Centers. Comment cards administered to visitors using this protocol should be marked as a “Scheduled” survey in the upper left-hand corner of the card.

    Visitor Centers may want to take advantage of other opportunities to obtain comment card responses from visitors by methods that do not conform to the standard survey protocol. For this reason, you can specify other methods of data collection on the comment card, to distinguish them from cards obtained using the standard survey protocol. Separate summaries will be produced for comment cards obtained by each of the different survey procedures described in the table below.

    Type of Survey Applicable Situations
    Scheduled Questionnaires administered using the survey calendar and the procedures set forth in the survey guidelines.
    Solicited Questionnaires completed at the request of a visitor center ranger or attendant outside of any formal survey process to document a visitor complaint or comment.
    Self-service Questionnaires placed on the Visitor Center reception desk or other central location for visitors to take and complete as they wish.
    Tour Rep Questionnaires administered to a tour leader or representative outside of the scheduled survey process to obtain feedback on behalf of the entire tour group.

    Choosing Visitors to Survey
    Comment cards should be given to selected visitors at the end of their visit, as they are preparing to leave the Visitor Center. The survey calendar shows the times of day at which you should administer a comment card to a visitor. The times of day indicated on the survey schedule are reference times for administering a comment card. At each reference time listed in the survey schedule, a comment card should be offered to a member of the next visitor party preparing to leave the Visitor Center. If they refuse to participate, the comment card should be offered to a member of each subsequent party, until the card is accepted.

    For purposes of this survey, all visitors, including those who visit only to use the restroom, are candidates for the survey.

    Which Member of the Visitor Party to Survey
    Visitors typically come and go as a group referred to as a visitor party. The party may vary in size from one to many individuals. Large parties, such a bus tour group, should be regarded as a single party. You should select only one member of the party to participate in the survey, usually an adult member of the party. You should not administer the survey to individuals under 16 years old.

    Responses to satisfaction questions are known to vary by visitor age, gender, activity, and other factors. The survey clerk should attempt to match the distribution of visitor characteristics obtained in the sample with those of the Visitor Center visitors as closely as possible. In particular, the clerk should alternate between male and female members of the party each time a card is administered.

    Large groups, such as school or bus tour groups, can be handled in one of two ways. You can regard a tour group as a visitor party and sample them using the rules for the scheduled survey protocol, as you would any other visitor party. Comment cards obtained from tour members using the standard survey protocol should be marked as having been collected as part of the scheduled survey.

    Alternatively, you can choose to omit tour groups from the scheduled survey process, and sample from the remaining visitors as though the tour group was not present. Use the latter procedure if you plan to obtain comment card data from one or more members of every tour group that comes through the Visitor Center. These comment cards should be marked as a “Tour Rep” survey. They should not be counted toward the daily quota of completed comment cards obtained as part of the schedule survey.

    Interacting with Visitors
    After receiving visitor consent, hand the visitor a comment card and pencil. Ask the visitor to complete the card immediately, then return it either to you or to a comment card deposit box, if you have one. Encourage candid responses. If appropriate, remind visitors that we cannot make improvements unless they provide honest and candid feedback. Give them some personnel space to fill out the card, so they do not feel any undue pressure from you. Avoid the temptation to read their responses as they mark them. Avoid reading responses to comment cards in the presence of any visitors.

    Sampling Adjustments for Unforeseen Circumstances:

  • Missed sampling days: If sampling does not occur on a particular day for any reason, the sampling day should be re-scheduled for the same day of the week in the week immediately after the last scheduled week of sampling. If multiple days are missed, continue to reschedule into subsequent weeks, as necessary.

  • Inability to fill daily quota: Any comment cards that you are unable to obtain on a given day, should be added to the quota of comment cards on the same day of the next week, at the same reference time listed for the missing survey.

  • Other unforeseen circumstances: Contact Christine Wibowo (ERDC) for assistance at 601-634-4397 or for additional situations that may occur.
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    Updated: April 2011