How can organizations become more open to feedback? What kinds of employee training would help? What would you tell your employees about feedback importance if you were the boss?
An organization can become more open to feedback by practicing as part of its daily operations, a system of feedback receptiveness that encourage customers to complain. This system will also require employees to act on those complaints in productive ways. The more customers come to expect good responses from the organization, the easier it is to be that company that welcomes feedback. Paul R. Timm (2011) maintains that you create a good feedback climate by reinforcing customer behaviors, not by challenging them. If customers fear a debate or argument every time they voice a concern, they will quit giving feedback.
So he suggests the following:
-Compensate them or provide restitution for unsatisfactory product or service. -Share their sense of urgency; get the problems handled quickly. -Avoid further inconveniences.
-Punish someone for the problem (sometimes).
-Assure them the problem will not happen again. (Timm, 2003)
If companies can accomplish these first important steps, they will show customers and employees that they are serious about receiving feedback, establishing a dialogue, and keeping their customers. The feeling of engagement goes a long way toward earning allegiance and building confidence in management, but defensiveness against feedback will put you out of business. As a customer, I have had the best customer satisfaction in establishments that have a well-advertised customer service focus (Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Nordstrom’s Rack). The ones where employees know there’ll be mystery shoppers; that “corporate” takes its ALS seriously; that reward or recrimination depends on each customer interaction they have throughout the day; that the company who acts on complaints quickly, tactfully, and efficiently, wins!
By having third-party involvement as a neutral conduit between the customer (and employee) and the organization, frank and open communication can be achieved. It eliminates barriers to listening like interactional elements arising from listener self-centeredness and self-protection. The more the organization hears from its customers, the greater its responsibility becomes to act efficiently and swiftly. It can easily invite feedback and advertise itself as engaging and receptive with the use of listening system technology. Allegiance Technologies has developed a Web-based “active listening system” (ALS) that provides an exceptional turn-key customer and employee dialoguing tool. (Timm, 2011) It gathers complaints, compliments, questions, and suggestions, assures anonymity, and provides customers with a third party through whom they can feel safe blowing the whistle on their local Target, or long-time employer.
The anonymity feature makes the system especially useful for employees who may fear retaliation. E.g., in government-mandated processes for facilitating whistle-blowing on company misdeeds. Once the company responds to the feedback, the ALS system provides follow-up in order to measure customer loyalty and satisfaction. Additionally, companies must be sincere and accommodating when they use technology driven forums like feedback pages and social networking to invite customer feedback. If they can get the customers to feel good about giving it, then they would have scored a victory for customer satisfaction.
Training employees to get with the program should begin at the recruitment phase. John Mackey of Whole Foods looks for people who have a high degree of emotional intelligence -- a high capacity for caring. (Mackey, 2009) The fact is you have to care about people to succeed at good customer service. The notion of getting the right people in is something that...