“How well are we providing service?” is a question that we frequently may be asking ourselves as service providers. In many cases the way to find out may be through a “how are we doing” button or survey. This can produce really great insights but may not be helping you achieve the results you are looking for.
Why is that?
Despite our best intentions to capture great feedback we also need a strategy on how to manage the feedback throughout its lifecycle. In my experience I have gathered a few areas to consider, and this is not a definitive list, so as always feel free to share which areas have worked well, or not so well for you.
Understand your why
What does success look like from your feedback initiative? Deciding out what you expect to gain from this initiative will allow you to ask the right initial questions. In the beginning less is more, you might find that after asking a couple of questions the information you gathered will surface other considerations. For some you may not even fully understand your business needs. Don’t worry about that. Asking why will begin the dialog for improvement. This might require that you start by getting the information from people in your business directly rather than having a survey. A quick coffee chat, even virtually, can pay big dividends in the long run when getting to know your business and building relationships.
Communicate the program
We have all seen cases where the communication around the feedback program was great in the beginning but then started to fall off as time went on. When this happens you will also see a corollary between the volume of communication and the feedback you receive. Remember, people want to contribute so your ability to keep them engaged is important. The trick here is to create a balance on information you are sharing and the appetite that the business has to consume it. Again understanding the business goes a long way to making this component successful. So if you aren’t sure if your organization is a push, pull or a blend of those than reach out to someone in your organization who understands how that works. Typically communications experts in your organization already know the best ways to do this and in fact when you can partner with them you will have a better chance of maximizing your communication efforts.
Understand the channels for feedback
As mentioned above be open to finding out how your audience wants to communicate with you on feedback. There are many ways to communicate (social media, tools, phone, email, etc.) so make sure that you manage which ever ones you choose to leverage accordingly. It could be very easy for us to assume that this would best be done via email or directly from an application. However the idea that we are assuming anything rather than asking is counter-intuitive to the feedback process in the first place. Keep it simple to start, be realistic the the amount of channels you are able to effectively manage. At the start you can use a couple and then branch out to manage more.
Now that we are receiving the feedback we need to make sure that we manage the information that we are getting appropriately. Being in a position to take the feedback and report to the submitter that we have their information and that we are in fact doing something with it is important.
Far too often the reason that people don’t submit feedback in the first place is they feel as though “they aren’t going to do anything with it anyways”. While many tools have a canned response after the information is submitted people really want to have some direct communication that their feedback is being considered in some way or another. So, given the amount of feedback you are getting position yourself to be able to respond in the best way possible.
While your initial response may not have all the answers just yet, ensuring that the submitter is aware that you are looking into something is a good start. Providing further responses with some timelines for any other corrective measures from a personal perspective lets the submitter know that there is actually someone looking at their concern rather than it going into black hole. If the information is sent in and they never hear back they will be less likely to participate the next time.
Where ever possible share the findings of the feedback regularly to the targeted audience to drive further submissions. Having this type of forum established may even allow those in the group to help you facilitate improvements. This may be particularly valuable in cases where you may think a resolution is not possible. The wider community may have already seen this issue and corrected it on their own or if this appears to be an issue more widely experienced than first thought, it may warrant more long term investigation. Overall collaborating with this type of dialog enables a better working relationship.
Report on the feedback
Establish regular reporting on the feedback you are collecting. Include things like who is responding and which business units do not. Are there questions that are generating better responses than others? All this information will ensure that you not only continually improve but how the information you solicit enables your improvement initiatives.
Overall, have a well-defined scope on the information you are soliciting. Engage the target audience with regular updates and set expectations around those. Build out some reporting on how well (or not) your feedback initiative is going to ensure you stay on target. All of these will help to manage the feedback over the long term and make lasting improvements your business needs
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