Monday, 26 October 2015

The Road to Feedback is paved with Good Intentions

We have all been there before at some point or another. In an effort to understand the business we solicit information from them in a “how are we doing” button or survey. The trouble that may present itself is that while we are working to improve things from a delivery perspective we may not have fully built out a strategy to manage the lifecycle of the feedback.

Here are a few points to consider, but as always feel free to share which areas have worked well, or not so well for you.

Decide what you want to gain from this
When I say ‘you’, I really mean the business which you support. When we think about gathering feedback from people the first thing that pops into frame is that we are looking to address some level of concern. In reality, it is about understanding what your business or customers need or want. By thinking with the end in mind we will be able to ask the right questions and target the right people rather than a shotgun blast of generic questions or a solicitation for feedback.

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. Interestingly as this happened the responses made a decline as well. Remember, people want to contribute so ensure the audience is aware of how they can do that. Everyone gets busy so keeping this at front of mind is important. However this is a balancing act, you want to notify without being intrusive.

Understand the channels for feedback
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…..

Feedback Management
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 key. Far too often the reason cited for not submitting feedback is that “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. Have some expectations on the feedback. While the content may still be vague, hearing from a human being at least give a sense of connection that an automated response does not. After collecting the information we will quickly assess if the data will be acted upon or put aside for later consumption. Let people know what you are doing with this. The transparency of not acting on someone’s feedback based on some fact will allow people to know that you are listening and actually reviewing ideas that they submit. If the information is sent in and they never hear back they will be less likely to participate the next time.

Feedback Findings
Where ever possible share the findings of the feedback regularly to the targeted audience to drive further submissions. If there is an area that will peak the interest of those in the audience you may be able to steer people who would be otherwise not respond to submit some feedback. Use this reporting as another tool to market the need for feedback.

Overall, having a well-defined scope on the information you are soliciting paired with engaging the target audience with communications and regular updates, will enable you to better manage the feedback over the long term and make the improvements  that will make a difference in all the right ways.  

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent post Ryan. First let me thank you for not saying "Customer Survey". Feedback is the right conversation.
    Second, I love that you state we need to know what are we going to do with this data.

    All to often that is a complete afterthought. Many approach this as "let's see what people have to say and then we'll see what we can do about it.". Seriously, that is a waste of everyone's effort. Before approaching feedback, a review of data should be done in anticipation of the feedback. i.e. If you want feedback on your self-service request system, then look at your web analytics. Number of hits, visits, session length, page visits. Are your users even looking at it? If the bounce rate is at 90% then people are confused and don't use it. So expect that in your feedback, don't ask: Do you use the self-service system? Yes/No. Ask "Why" don't you use the self-service system? Slow / Too confusing or complex / Didn't have what I needed / It's ugly

    Then you have real actionable data to make improvements on.