Two recent stories gave me the idea for this blog, which is about not giving up on good ideas too early just because the initial execution didn’t work.
The first story was one I heard at a recent meeting, where someone told me about an unusual feedback program in some French public toilets. Yes, toilets. And why not? Continuous monitoring of user satisfaction is surely a good initiative and allows the operator to optimise things like cleaning and maintenance intervals, stock levels etc. Proof of customer satisfaction can also provide the facility manager with good arguments when it comes to renewing their contract or to decide whether investment is required.
At least, that’s the theory, because here comes the terrible execution: Someone decided that it would be fun to install a panel near the toilet exit displaying a smiling face and sad face next to each other. The smiling face had a green hand printed underneath it and below the sad face was a red hand. Customers leaving the toilet can give their feedback simply by placing their hand on the green or red hand symbol and an electronic sensor inside the panel registers the votes. Sounds like fun, right? But in a public toilet? These days, in most modern toilets, the doors, taps, hand dryers, and even flushes are contact-less – and here users are expected to actually touch a panel to voice their satisfaction?
Maybe a contact-less voting system would have made more sense? I just hope the terrible execution didn’t kill the good idea and positive intention!
Another story I read in a book recently was about failure and how successful people embrace failure in order to eventually overcome it. Some of the more striking examples are R. H. Macy, who started seven failed businesses before finally hitting big time with his store in New York City, and Colonel Sanders, the Kentucky Fried Chicken guy, who had to overcome numerous rejections (apparently his chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it), but eventually succeeded with his franchise idea. These are just two examples of people who believed in their goals and were never discouraged by failure.
Of course, as this is a Friends of Feedback blog, I am applying this to customer feedback and online communities.
I am not suggesting that you should aim to fail, but if you have failed in the past, don’t be discouraged. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the concept is at fault, but could be evidence of bad execution.
There is a lot of proof out there that feedback and engagement improves business performance, if executed well. To be successful, work with partners and technology that add value, give good advice, facilitate best practice, and most importantly, are flexible in their approach and seek to understand your business rather than prescribing a one-method-fits-all approach.
Do you have any feedback failure stories? I’ll be interested to hear them!
voice of the customer
Customer Experience Management
increase response rate
voice of the employee