What is Feedback, and Why Is It So Important?
Feedback is the most important measuring stick you've got when it comes to improving your organization
You have an organization that provides services, and you want to do the best job possible. To get to the top of your field, you're going to have to learn and grow. How do you learn? By getting feedback from the people you serve.
Planning, internal testing, wireframing, and vision are great. But until you know how the people you serve feel about what you offer, you'll never be able to grow.
Feedback⸺that input from customers about how they felt⸺is how you gauge success.
When your clients or customers know their feedback is valued and acted upon, it increases a sense of ownership in your organization, making them feel like community members instead of just commodities.
That's why feedback is the most important measuring stick you've got when it comes to improving your organization.
But before we get there, we have to understand what, exactly, feedback is.
The different types of feedback
Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen's "Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well," breaks feedback down into three categories.
- Appreciation. Appreciation is about relationships and human connection. Basically, even something as simple as a "Thank you" really means "I see you, I know what you're doing, and I appreciate the effort."
- Coaching. Coaching is when you ask someone for advice on how to do a job better. It's aimed at helping someone learn, grow, and improve.
- Evaluation. Evaluation is what you will mostly encounter when asking your clientele for feedback. Evaluation tells you where you stand and how you're doing, allowing you to determine your organization's effectiveness.
What Feedback Does for Your Organization
When it comes to bettering your organization, evaluation is what will be most useful. You can gather feedback by simply talking to your clients, requesting they fill out cards, or soliciting emails from them.
But the surest way to get truly honest feedback is by offering anonymity. This allows people to express their opinions honestly, without expectation of reward or fear of retribution. One downside is that you won't be able to contact individual clients or customers for follow-up questions, but you can always formulate future survey questions if there are responses you want to explore further. With that anonymity will come honesty, so be ready to read some hard truths. But it's better to know where you need to improve than to never know where you're letting down your clients.
As your clients see their feedback acted upon, they'll start to develop faith in your organization, because they can see you truly care about their needs.
Find a service that lets you collect anonymous feedback, whether online or at an on-site kiosk.
Once you start gathering enough feedback, you'll be able to put it to good use and explore its true value.
Feedback will help you truly understand your clients' needs ⸺especially their unmet needs. You will be able to get insight into what services and ideas can help you serve your clients better.
Feedback will help guide the growth of your organization, as you discover what you're doing right, and what you can do better. Most importantly, you'll see new opportunities you haven't even dreamed of before.
So to sum it up: What is feedback?
It's priceless. It's free. It's insightful. It builds your clients' faith in you.
It's how you get better.