Client satisfaction surveys and employee morale surveys give more voice to the disgruntled and extreme views

In Charles Seife, Proofiness: How you’re being fooled by the numbers (Penguin 2010) at 108, a point is made that has bearing on the survey instruments in the header and their findings. “When surveys and polls depend on voluntary response, it’s almost always the case that people with strong opinions tend to respond much more often than those who don’t have strong opinions. This introduces a bias: the poll disproportionately reflects extreme opinions at the expense of moderate ones.”

Worse, “People are relatively silent when they’re reasonably content, but if they’re angry they tend to shout it from the mountaintop.” What might this phenomenon say about data on dissatisfaction with law firms, with law departments or with software vendors (See my post of May 3, 2009: data that belies this claim; and June 26, 2008: CEOs and their views of law departments.)? We hear from the loudmouths, not the silent majority.

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