Suggestion Box!

Suggestion Box!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We find suggestion box in many places asking for feedback. These boxes are located in areas customers could easily spot them and hopeful that they will throw in, of course their feedback.

The last time I helped a client open up the Pandora box, we found everything but feedback. Thus I conclude it is either mistaken as a dustbin or people are just too fed up that nothing happens with their feedback. 

When customers lack the confidence that feedback is acted upon quickly and thoroughly, they will stay away from investing their valuable time on such task. This reminds me of a Tamil movie that I watched not so long ago. This is about a young news reporter who was challenged by the incumbent Chief Minister (CM) of Tamilnadu, a state in India, to take over his (CM) job. Obviously he took the challenge and won through public polls. 

One of his immediate key initiatives after taking over as the CM office was to place suggestion boxes all over the state. He assured the people that every feedback would be reviewed and acted upon promptly. He explained that only when these boxes become empty over time, he could claim success in managing the country well.  And that is because people don’t have any issues to report to him anymore as that is a sign that the administration of the state is managed well. He appointed a team of trusted comrades to collect these feedbacks from all over the state and review them thoroughly. 

Of course this movie is not short of all the melodramatic actions and love songs. But it points out an important message across. When the top management commits to an initiative, employees and customers tend to demonstrate a behaviour that truly support such initiatives. The managers need to walk the talk by first communicating their commitment to an initiative clearly. Next, they must be able to act on issues raised through initiatives. The actions must be firm and effective in making the change.

Back to the suggestion boxes, when companies put up such initiatives, how sincere are they in such initiatives? How much do they care about such feedback? What process have they established in managing those feedbacks? Many a time we see a severe lacking in the companies to be motivated in hearing from their customers or prospects. 

Some companies put it up as a part of the ISO9000 requirement to solicit feedback from customers. Today most companies acquiring such standards (ISO) are as nothing more than to have a certification emblem on all their products, letter heads, envelope, name cards and so on. Therefore one can imagine the kind of importance such feedback have on these companies.

Similar suggestion box are now available electronically on some high tech companies, but the effect is still the same. My mobile operator uses an electronic tablet on each helpdesk counters. The display on the tablet asks a simple question: “Are you satisfied with our service?” with a radial button of “Yes” and “No”. I observed many customers don’t bother participating to that question. I even saw an agent flipped the tablet and clicked on her own. It only goes to say how much the company emphasizes on improving their customer service!

In conclusion, when a company is not serious in improving through customer feedback, don’t bother asking them – it is enormously counterproductive and many times degrade their reputation.

Satya Narayanan