Leveraging the power of citizen engagement to dramatically improve customer service, agency focus and cost efficiency.
Seeking Customer Feedback
June 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm #102851
I’m not sure if my agency is behind the times or not, but we’re just starting to embark on an effort to develop customer feedback strategies. We’re looking for some successful examples, best practices, etc. We want to develop methods of gathering on-going feedback to judge performance, identify services that need to be improved, and support better decision-making.
To that end, I hope you can help with answers to some questions.
What methods of collecting customer feedback is your agency using? If your agency is not making a specific effort to collect feedback, why not?
And, what has your experience been with the feedback you’ve received, the resources needed to manage the feedback, and your responses to the feedback?
June 12, 2010 at 12:21 am #102859
Scott, I don’t think you’re behind the times at all. Many organizations are now waking up to the importance of an interactive relationship with customers. To reinforce this phenomenon, customers themselves are growing intolerant of organizations that don’t incorporate their feedback as part of product / service development. When they find an organization that has a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, they leave it.
There are two broad categories of direct feedback collection: point of service collection and survey collection. Point of service collection is generally considered more benign than survey collection because it is gathered at the time the service is delivered and does not require a “customer” to divert their energy from what they are currently working on (as they would if they were presented with a survey).
Traditional surveys also tend to overlap (multiple service providers – sometimes from the same agency – asking the same or similar questions). This can lead to survey fatigue and affect the results. Some organizations require survey’s to be registered and “stabilized” for one full year – in other words, the questions stay the same for one year – a duplicate follow up survey is required. Check your local policy.
Point of service surveys can take many forms: Web based, telephone, paper questionnaires, etc. You’ve seen these after you make a purchase online and a little pop-up asks if you’ve enjoyed the service. You’ve also seen simple versions of this at the end of some online FAQ’s when the site asks if the answer was helpful to you.
Web has the advantage of being quick and easy – usually gathering a larger statistical sample for you to look at later. Telephone has the advantage of personal contact – providing the person answering the survey isn’t annoyed.
I’ve personally had success with incorporating a couple of questions into staff routines, then adding a URL to email signature blocks for those who want to respond further (See the DoD Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE)). Incorporating a caring question or two into staff routines has the added benefit of focusing the organization on what matters most – the customer.
Finally, I’d submit that there is a lot of pre-work that goes into designing a customer feedback system. Your customers have to know you, like you, respect you, and trust you before they are going to be willing to open up and share honest feedback.
Was my feedback helpful?
June 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm #102857
Hi David, thanks for the response (and sorry for the overdue reply). Your information’s great and definitely helps guide my efforts.
June 24, 2010 at 7:30 pm #102855
Scott M. PattonParticipant
David, a lot depends upon the type of service you’re in and why you want to gather feedback. Do you want to redesign your processes around your customers? Are you including customer satisfaction in employee evaluations? Is it strictly a political reason?
I’ve successfully used surveys, focus groups, charettes, secret shopper, and point of service comment cards (which don’t give valuable information but are valuable in managing expectations). Focus groups and secret shoppers are great for redesigning processes – especially if you’re in a regulatory function and satisfaction is actually not as important as simplifying compliance. Surveys can be over-used and you want to make sure that you’re asking your actual customers or you’ll get bad data (I once worked for a county that did a random citizen survey and discovered that 70% of residents were satisfied with county services and also that 70% couldn’t identify which services were county services vs city services). Charettes are valuable for getting customers involved in creating long-term change but they can also be expensive.
One other thing to keep in mind is designing your process around what drives customer satisfaction. Is it speedy service? Is it kindness? Is it accessibility? Etc.
Hope this helps.
July 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm #102853
The most important aspect, from customers perspective, is to make it easy and not time consuming. I called my cell phone provider the other day and agreed to take a brief survey at the end of the phone call. After 5 minutes of questions, I just hung up because I had to go. Make it short and sweet.
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