Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

What We've Learned About Customer Satisfaction:

1. We Spent Time On An Organizational Overview

  1. What is our business?

  2. Who are our customers?

  3. What are our products and services?

  4. Begin aligning our work to the Baldrige Framework.

2. Customer Focus

  1. What are all the ways we listen to our customers?

  2. What have we learned about improving existing or creating new products and services from listening to our customers?

  3. Based on what we learned, what actions did we take to improve existing or create new products and services?

  4. Did we improve our actions systematically?

3. Measuring Customer Satisfaction

  1. First ask customers what features they value in a specific product or service. Ask a range of customers who have used the product or service.

  2. Find consensus about the most critical feature.

  3. Create the briefest survey allowing for both quantitative and qualitative feedback about what customers value (the most critical feature).

  4. Always assess or complete a customer satisfaction survey as close to the customer experience as possible.

  5. Collect data and continuously look for actionable items. There is a whole range of actions that can be taken to increase response rate.

  6. An actionable item means a suggestion that will improve the product or service.

  7. Actively seek suggestions for improvements or compliments.

  8. Use Pareto charts to select which action to take first or which improvement to make first. A Pareto chart provides an ordering of actionable items (most frequently mentioned is tackled first).

  9. Follow a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle in making changes in products and services. This cycle means identifying an opportunity for improvement in a current product or service process (Plan), implementing a solution or process change (Do), evaluating the result of the change (Check), and acting on what has been learned (Act).

  10. Chart data over time. You need three (3) points of measurement for a trend line.

  11. Your graph should show trends, levels, and comparisons.

  12. If you can’t find comparison data, find the data from other resources. To measure customer satisfaction with one of our publications, we found publications on a comparable topic published by two groups outside of the disability field. We then asked 56 people to read and evaluate all three publications. We received data on all three products, suggestions for improvements of all three products, and we could share feedback with the two other publishers.

Since 1990, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) has specified four outcomes, referred to as IPII, for people with developmental disabilities and families and defined those terms as follows:

  1. Independence: Independence means the extent to which individuals with developmental disabilities exert control and choice over their own lives.

  2. Productivity: Productivity means engaging in income-producing work that is measured by increased income, improvement employment status, or job advancement; or engaging in work that contributes to a household or community.

  3. Integration: Integration, with respect to individuals with developmental disabilities, means exercising the equal right of individuals with developmental disabilities to access and use the same community resources as are used by and available to other individuals.

  4. Inclusion: Inclusion, with respect to individuals with developmental disabilities, means the acceptance and encouragement of the presence and participation of individuals with developmental disabilities, by individuals without disabilities, in social, educational, work, and community activities, that enables individuals with developmental disabilities to:

    1. have friendships and relationships with individuals and families of their choice;

    2. live in homes close to community resources, with regular contact with individuals without disabilities in their communities;

    3. enjoy full access to and active participation in the same community activities and types of employment as individuals without disabilities;

    4. take full advantage of their integration into the same community resources as individuals without disabilities, living, learning, working, and enjoying life in regular contact with individuals without disabilities.

The reauthorization of the DD Act of 2000 added self determination activities as an outcome. Self determination activities are defined as activities that result in individuals with developmental disabilities, with appropriate assistance, having:

  1. the ability and opportunity to communicate and make personal decisions;

  2. The ability and opportunity to communicate choices and exercise control over the type and intensity of services, supports, and other assistance the individuals receive;

  3. The authority to control resources to obtain needed services, supports, and other assistance;

  4. Opportunities to participate in, and contribute to, their communities; and

  5. Support, including financial support, to advocate for themselves and other, to develop leadership skills, through training in self advocacy, to participate in coalitions, to educate policymakers, and to play a role in the development of public policies that affect individuals with developmental disabilities.

Since 1998, the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities has conducted individual interviews, focus groups, and surveys to determine what these terms mean from the customer viewpoint. If IPII is assessed for every product and service, make sure the terms are from the customer viewpoint.

As part of the Baldrige Framework, we reached the conclusion that systematic customer and market surveys are needed to fulfill several purposes:

  1. Customer satisfaction with IPII;

  2. Determine specific drivers within IPII;

  3. Create a baseline;

  4. Begin assessing customer satisfaction with special education, local government, state government, and federal government.

Our Council contracted with MarketResponse International to conduct a quality assessment, determine how people with developmental disabilities evaluate the quality of products and services they receive from government agencies and suppliers, determine their levels of satisfaction with IPII, and what obstacles they face in day to day living. No generalization is possible since this was not a random sample. More information on the methodology used is available from our Council office.

It is important to note that 80% satisfaction (20% dissatisfaction) is an industry standard that indicates your business is in crisis. None of the satisfaction data was above 80% for any part of this study.



Sixty per cent of the respondents were satisfied with their level of independence. The drivers of Independence are:

  1. Mobility - I can go where I want to go.

  2. Privacy - I have privacy when I need it. I have privacy to be with people when I want privacy.

  3. Information Access - Only people who are allowed to know my personal information have access to it.

  4. Destiny, Control of the Future - I can set outcomes (goals) for myself.

People with the most significant disabilities were least satisfied with their level of independence.


Sixty-two per cent of the respondents were satisfied with their level of productivity. For those individuals who are working, the drivers of Productivity are:

  1. Reward - I am rewarded for the things I do.

  2. Challenged - I am appropriately challenged by my responsibilities.

  3. Skills - I have been improving my skills.

Respondents wanted to work or volunteer more hours. Those who were unemployed wanted a job.


Sixty-four per cent of the respondents were satisfied with their level of integration. The drivers of Integration are:

  1. Equality - My rights to equality are acknowledged by my community.

  2. Resources - Resources I need are available in my community.

  3. Friends - I have opportunities to do thing with people my age. I have friends who do not have developmental disabilities.

  4. Confidence and Support - I feel comfortable outside of my immediate community. The personal support I require is available in my community.


Fifty-five per cent of the respondents were satisfied with their level of inclusion. Respondents were least satisfied with their level of inclusion. Drivers of Inclusion are:

  1. Relationships - I have opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with people who do not have developmental disabilities.

  2. Equal - People without a disability treat me as an equal.

  3. Respect - People treat me with respect.


One in four respondents was dissatisfied with the education/special education services they were receiving. Almost one-third of the respondents believed their concerns were not addressed promptly or professionally.


All levels of government received low ratings. County and state government each received a rating of 5.5 (scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest). The federal government received a rating of 4.9, the lowest rating.


Respondents indicated that their developmental disability affected their ability to function in the following life areas (order of priority):

  1. Economic self sufficiency;

  2. Living independently;

  3. Learning.

This was a baseline survey only. Our Council has made a commitment to systematically assess customer satisfaction and assessment outcomes of independence, productivity, integration, inclusion, and self determination.

©2024 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Administration Building   50 Sherburne Avenue   Room G10
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155
Phone: 651-296-4018   Toll-free number: 877-348-0505   MN Relay Service: 800-627-3529 OR 711
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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2301MNSCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

This website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,120,136.00 with 83 percent funded by ACL/HHS and $222,000.00 and 17 percent funded by non-federal-government source(s). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.