These days it seems we can't experience anything without being questioned about it afterwards, and this flood of requests has spread to pharmacy. It started with the pointless Community Pharmacy Patient Questionnaire – as futile an audit as when I was asked by a restaurant waiter if everything was alright with the bottled water I had ordered – and now it is impossible to attend any training event, communication evening or trade show without being required to complete a feedback form.
Each day brings an email from some pharmacy body or company asking for us to rate their insurance products, newsletter or service department. Every call to our PMR helpdesk ends with a website opening automatically asking us to rate the experience of being on hold for 30 minutes, unable to dispense, only to be told the NHS Spine is having connection problems and that we can ignore the Identity Manager dialogue box that randomly appears.
It's not knowing the answer that's important, but asking the right question
Are we no longer capable of standing up and complaining or has someone finally decided that the British way of dealing with poor service – tutting under the breath – doesn't bring about an improvement in service?
I have worked for companies where the district manager expects every patient to be asked, "Is everything alright with your prescription?" as if I were a server in a bistro. This corporate robot-speak phrase sticks in my throat along with, "Could you find everything you're looking for?" and answering the phone with, "Good afternoon thank you for calling Smiths Company Pharmacy you're through to the dispensary my name's Chantelle how may I help you today?", by which time most patients have exhausted their short-term memory or died waiting to get a word in.
Presumably the GPhC fitness-to-practise panel's final act after handing down a mild ticking-off to a pharmacist caught selling morphine on eBay is to hand out a slip that says: "On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate our ineffectiveness?"
I might be able to accept all this futile form-filling and box-ticking if I believed it would change anything. But it doesn't. I've had plenty of emails asking for feedback on the usefulness of an association's website but not on the usefulness of their services. And I'm asked to report on the quality of a committee's communication, but not on their negotiating effectiveness.
To those companies that seek my opinion on their level of service but don't employ enough staff to actually serve you, can I just point out that self-service tills don't count unless they'd like feedback on their redundancy programme.
Is my day not busy enough without all these reviews and questionnaires? All of which miss the point – it's not knowing the answer that's important, but asking the right question.