Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Feedback



Last week I happened to visit a hospital’s waiting room. There TV was not working. Everybody in the room was clueless whom to contact. It seems to lie outside everyone’s domain of responsibility. Nurses, housekeeping staff, electrician et al were either nonchalant or busy with their daily chores. How great it would have been if some trigger\feedback was sent to maintenance folks automatically!


Feedback is necessary and does add value. Either we act on received feedback or not but one should actively seek feedback so that we are aware of diverse opinions. We generally tend to leave it to people (either our customer or client) to give feedback. But as nearly all of us are in crunch of time not many people takes out time to give feedback. People are more inclined in finding other option than mending the existing option. We can’t depend entirely on willingness of people to get feedback. Create processes that either automate feedback capture or prods people to give feedback. When ATM machines stops working some trigger should tell maintenance folks to act on it. Historic trend (per hour or, better, every ten minutes) can be collected for every specific machine based on its usage. Once that’s historic usage trend is violated system should flag that as discrepancy and highlight this to maintenance folks. They can validate whether it’s real discrepancy or just a blip. It will lead to decreased maintenance turnaround time and will lead to increased availability of machine hence enhanced customer experience. For how long banks will depend on security guard at ATM or unhappy customer to report ATM's malfunctioning to bank?


Any machine that can capture data should be used as feedback mechanism. The machines that don’t capture data should be modified to capture data and send it to right people for their processing.

If you are dealing with people then don’t rely on people proactively giving feedback. Make processes so that process prods people to give feedback. Like don’t let your waiters to decide whether to take feedback from customers or not. They might shirk from their responsibility many a times. Make this a process that every time some customer is billed, waiter has to mandatorily collect feedback while giving the bill to customer.

Right interpretation of feedback is also very important. Sometimes if you coerce people into giving feedback they won’t tell you the right thing but they will tell you the thing that is easiest\fastest for them. So do give leeway to people whether they want to give feedback or not. Always look for dissenters\outliers while analyzing feedback. Dissenters are the folks who will give you different feedback. Whatever that may be, right or wrong, but you will get different feedback from them. In this world of ‘schedule adherers’ or ‘people blabbering niceties’ or ‘intentionally vague people’ dissenters are rare breed so they must be appreciated for their thinking.
Actively collect feedback, improve, collect feedback, improve……..