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Improving Company Feedback: How to Set Up a System to Learn from Employees and Customers

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Effective employee feedback systems can accomplish a lot. They empower employees and encourage them to assume more ownership. They help to uncover breakdowns in the sales funnel and offer insights that can improve the customer experience.

But they must be designed properly.

A well-executive customer or employee feedback system should enable employees to easily offer their ideas. It should encourage and reward this feedback, and ultimately it should be designed to quickly determine whether or not action should be taken. When effective, these systems can help to cut costs, improve customer experiences, and deliver actionable insights.

The ideas don’t have to be earth-shattering either. One classic example: In the 1990s, an employee at Boardroom Inc., a newsletter publisher, suggested the company resize their books by a quarter-inch to save on postage. The suggestion ultimately led to $500,000 in savings per year.

Designing a Customer or Employee Feedback System

What makes a customer or employee feedback system effective, you ask? It will likely to depend on your employees and the industry your business operates in. But there are many characteristics that useful feedback systems share.

  • Encourage and Listen: Your employees need to know that you value honest feedback. You can do this by creating incentivized customer feedback programs. Some examples include completing a survey to enter a company wide contest or creating team based competitions. With employees, it’s important generate buy-in from all departments and all employees. Once feedback is received, the best ideas should be rewarded and showcased.
  • No Idea Is Too Small: Small ideas have real power, especially when you make it habit to implement the best ones. Here’s an example: A Danish textile manufacturing company was able to develop looms that were four times more efficient than the same types of machines used in other locations. How? They consistently integrated small – but insightful – innovations into their machines, making them easier and easier to use.
  • Ensure Feedback Is Easy to Offer: The suggestion box is a classic feedback system. It works because it’s so easy to use. Enable your employees to leave quick feedback. Something as simple as a Post-it Note board works or you could create an online form. Better yet, it’s recommended to take an “all-of-the-above” approach as that will make it ideal for both old-school and new-school employees.
  • Make Ideas Actionable: Feedback systems are dead-on-arrival when ideas sit around and no action is ever taken. First, employees will lose motivation to contribute ideas. Second, seasonal or one-time cost savings measure might get missed.
  • Consistency Is Key: The number of responses you receive may wane over time, especially after the initial wears off. One key: Encourage employees to contribute ideas weekly. That’s the strategy Boardroom Inc. used, requiring employees to submit two ideas each week. Their strategy paid off in a big way. Once you create and introduce your system, you’ll still need to continue to advocate for it.
  • Amplify Your Decisions: Small ideas can generate new ways of looking at problems. Once ideas have been suggested, encourage the rest of your employees to offer feedback on those ideas. One suggestion: Tack those suggestions to a board. A suggestion board with sticky note ideas gets these ideas out in the open, and encourages people to get behind ideas they believe in. It also puts social pressure on other employees to contribute.

An employee or customer feedback system can be extremely useful in providing insights into your business. Feedback systems can help reduce workplace accidents, cut costs, improve morale – the list goes on and on. Yet, there is a right and wrong way to collect feedback. The key is asking for feedback, acting on it, and rewarding and supporting the best ideas that come up.

Bio

Matt Davis is an Associate for Stik2It. Stik2It makes buying blank laser labels, domed labels, and custom printed post-it notes dead simple.

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