Feedback Done Right: Real-time Conversations

Author: Morgan Palmer – The BCJ Group Partner

Anyone reading this has probably had the misfortune of sitting through an annual performance review. Similarly, you’re probably also aware that those are so universally despised that there has been a movement away from annual reviews that has been going on for over a decade. So if we don’t like getting or giving feedback once a year, why would we ask our customers to do the same for us?

The thing about feedback is that when done right, it does more than registers a concern, it generates engagement with your customers. There’s a fine line between talking with and talking to, and having an immediate response is what separates that feeling of a conversation from a lecture or a comment card in a bottomless box. And as with all things in modern business, the main three things to consider are people, processes, and technology.
People

Starting with people – do your people have the right mindset to embrace a truly customer-centric feedback process? Are they being incentivized to circle back to any customer who has feedback, or are their interactions purely transactional? Do your employees see a closed feedback loop being exhibited by their leaders when they have suggestions or ideas? Does your organization think of feedback as complaints to be smoothed over or a chance to be more in tune with your customers’ needs?
Processes

The processes your organization employs are a part of the solution as well. Earlier we mentioned incentives, and those can be rewards or recognition, but what about the processes for collecting feedback – where, when, and how does that happen? Are there people at your organization who are ultimately accountable for making sure that all customer feedback is acted upon? Having a formal, structured workflow for asking for and responding to feedback is key here – it should be consistent and should itself be adaptable to its own feedback: what is working and what is not.
Technology

And finally, technology. Without the right tools to collect feedback in a timely manner, there can be no true real-time feedback. With the right tools however, your organization can collect feedback and respond immediately – this can be as simple as thanking them for their feedback (a best practice here is to reiterate what the customer said), or even to continue the interaction by asking the customer for further feedback, to reward them, to promote them on social media (or ask them to promote you), or anything else that makes the customer feel heard and valued.
Here’s the thing about feedback though – whether you’re getting it real-time or every other year, if you don’t act on that feedback it doesn’t really matter much when you receive it. Not all feedback is valuable, but being able to separate the “good” from the “bad”, and being able to spot trends and familiar themes in that feedback is what you are trying to achieve.

The BCJ Group is always looking to improve – was this article helpful to you, or give you any good ideas – what else would you like to hear about?

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