All companies need feedback (don't they?). Having spent the majority of my adult life as a fighter pilot in the RAF it was just what we did, and we (generally) did it really well. During my time as leader of the Red Arrows we took giving and receiving feedback to another level and if you look at any world-class team/business they would be doing something very similar. Having spent some time consulting to businesses it surprised me how many businesses talked a good story about feedback yet very few actually walked the walk on this one.
Over the past 6 months I have launched MyGiftGenie, and am trying to apply the lessons from my previous backgrounds to a very different world – so why is feedback important and how can we do it? This stuff is not rocket science so why do so few businesses really embrace it? Well, like most things to do with (ex) fighter pilots, I have kept it simple – this is what I’m doing about it and hopefully it will be of use/interest to my fellow #SBS community.
Why is Feedback Important?
It Builds Trust. Whether it’s the employer/employee relationship, buying something from the high street or researching something online, trust (or lack of) can seriously affect this relationship. Would you want to work for an employer, open a bank account or buy a holiday from someone that you didn’t trust? I suspect that the answer is no.
It Engenders Honesty. Feedback has to be honest otherwise it’s useless. It can be difficult to be honest with your employer, especially when mistakes have been made, but get over this hurdle and performance improves exponentially. One of the reasons that feedback is so useful for online businesses is that it is easy for the consumer to be brutally honest…there is no fallout because of it. Imagine if this open, honest and objective feedback could exist within your organisation?
It Improves Employee Engagement/Customer Experience. If you are able to build trust and be honest (not just say the words but actually do something about it) then it is probably the most powerful employee engagement or customer service tool available. Happy employees/customers are likely to be more productive employees/customers.
It Provides 3rd Party Insight. It Helps with the WHY? Why are my employees leaving, why are sales down, why are complaints on the rise? Understanding the feedback received will help us get to the root cause, we then stand a fighting chance of doing something about it…which leads nicely onto point 5.
Something Changes. Einstein said that “definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting the same result”. Applying feedback helps businesses become sane, something changes and performance/sales/customer satisfaction/engagement improves.
How to do it?
Make It Simple. Make it easy and make it quick – if it’s none of these things then it’s less likely to get completed. Face-to-face feedback is often the most valuable but not that easy to scale. If you want a higher response rate, then make sure that it can be completed on a mobile device.
Be Contemporary. Create an online community, a chat forum or let people add photos (might need a moderator!). Better still, ask your employees/customers how they would like to engage with you, this is the 21st century after all.
Embrace The Process. Display positive feedback and respond to negative feedback, it’s simple but time consuming. Don’t let all of this valuable data just sit on the shelf.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. When I was leader of the Red Arrows in the RAF, I used to go into the crewroom frequently just to chat to my team. This was also an opportunity for them to tell me about their individual gripes and concerns. I would be worried if everyone fell silent when I walked in the room – that often meant that a large issue was looming! There are not many (if any) perfect organisations and you are likely to always receive negative feedback; acknowledge all feedback but start fixing things by addressing the larger issues first and try not to lose sleep over the smaller issues.
Reward. As my good friend and former Red Arrows pilot Justin Hughes states in his ‘must-read’ book ‘The Business of Excellence’, you get the performance and the behaviour that you reward. If you incentivise the feedback process, then response rates are likely to be higher.
At MyGiftGenie, we consider feedback to be one of the critical drivers of building a successful online company. Point 5 (something changes) can be a difficult thing to do, but we have remained objective and made a number of changes to our website following extensive feedback. We have just engaged with an independent review provider to not only build trust among customers but to genuinely see what our customers think about our products and our service – this will inform further improvements and is invaluable and can be viewed HERE.
Feedback always welcome…
About the author. Jas Hawker spent 24 years as a pilot in the RAF including 6 years on the Red Arrows, he has consulted to large organisations and recently founded MyGiftGenie – an online service which provides free special event reminders and gift ideas for all occasions. Very proud to be part of the #SBS community.