All kinds of work go into getting your customers to share feedback with you.  Ironically, the place we see most companies trip up is at the finish line – when it’s time to share those results with employees.

Over the years we’ve worked with a wide variety of companies to help create feedback loops between customers and employees.  It turns out that there’s one thing that vexes companies more than any other in making a solid feedback loop really “stick”: the practice of sharing the results regularly with employees.

Why should it be in the plan to share feedback? Sharing customer feedback with customer-facing employees is vitally important because it allows them to make the changes your business needs to improve, or even maintain its service standards.  And it works.  Simply showing the grades to your employees and allowing them to see objectively how they’re doing through the eyes of real customers naturally changes employee behavior for the better.

Here’s an interesting test we’ve done many times.  When we do an implementation for a company and they start by collecting grades but not showing the employees, they establish a baseline.  On the week when that company starts showing their employees the grades, they get a nice “bump” in grade quality.  No tricky fancy stuff, just show the grades to the employees.  Employees make conscious and subconscious changes.

How do we know if we’re doing it right? Simple.  You should be able to walk into any one of your locations and ask the employees how they’re doing.  If they know how they’re being graded – even generally – then you have connected the feedback loop.

If your employees don’t know how they’re doing, then that’s a problem.  We’ve even seen cases where companies that use our software have executive management and front-line management teams who areextremely attuned to how their customer grades are trending, and yet many of their customer-facing employees don’t even know the program exists.  Ouch!

We’d even go beyond showing your employees the grades.  Really engaging employees in the feedback loop requires that you share positive customer feedback regularly as a means of recognizing great employee performance.  Your teams are a lot more likely to stay tuned-in to feedback when they’re getting positive feedback.   (We generally find over 90% of customer feedback is positive!  For more on this see our post on customer complaints called Complaint Line Effect.)

What happens when we stop sharing? A couple of things.  First, the feedback loop stops functioning as employees stop receiving objective information about how they’re doing and how that compares to their peer locations.  That’s a huge potential gain in store performance for practically zero additional dollars left sitting on the table.

Second, initiative becomes a burden and a stress on front-line managers because it doesn’t capture the interest and momentum of employees.  And that’s a problem.  If employees aren’t interested and engaged in the idea of listening to objective customer feedback, then the measurement falls by the wayside when other priorities come up.

Making it work.  The companies who make the most of customer feedback systematize the process of getting information to the front line so that regional and district managers aren’t responsible for that work.  In our own experience, we frequently push easy, visual reports each week to each location by email.  Many of our clients actually push customer feedback results to the POS system!  The point is that it needs to be easy so that managers can use the information without having to be responsible forprocessing and routing it.

You’re already doing the work of getting feedback from your customers.  Don’t fall down at the finish line!

About the Author:  Max Israel is the founder of Customerville, a Customer Satisfaction Measurement Solution for Multi-unit Operators that can help you create happier customers and drive sales.

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