Innovation Junkies Podcast

Systems for Customer & Employee Feedback

The Jeffs talk about increased turnover rates in customers and employees. They discuss how to create systems to get consistent customer & employee feedback, the importance of action plans following feedback, leadership by walking around & regular one-on-ones.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
Are you ready to change the trajectory of your business and see massive improvements Each week, we’ll share strategies and practices to generate sustained results and long lasting success in your organization. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies podcast.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey guys, Jeff Standridge here. Welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. Glad you’re here.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, I’m glad to be back. It’s Jeff Amerine. I can’t believe we have an opportunity to do this again.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey, man, this is great fun, isn’t it?

Jeff Amerine:
It is. It’s great fun.

Jeff Standridge:
Yes, it is. Yes it is. It’s interesting, we always get blindsided when we have a top employee who leaves the organization abruptly or we have a customer who we thought things were great with, and they end up defecting, if you will, and going to a competitor. What I’d like to talk about today is how do we create systems to get consistent and regular customer and employee feedback, and what are some of those systems that we can use? That sound good to you?

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, it sounds great. I’ll kind of lead us off here. There’s one that we’ve really warmed up to over the past several years, and it’s a stat that we check on as part of our weekly meetings, and that’s net promoter score. So the net promoter score is an easy and effective way to understand customer satisfaction, and it’s not a hundred question survey. It’s something where you ask a simple question after every customer interaction, which asks that customer, “Would you recommend our business, our service, our product, our solution to someone else?”

And then they score it on sort of a zero to 10 basis. And if you get anything less than, I think it’s a seven on that, it’s actually counted against you, it’s negative. A seven is neutral and then an eight or nine are positive. So it gives you a really weighted way of understanding, “Are we doing the right things? Are people happy with our service, and are we fulfilling our obligation and meeting our purpose that our customers have paid us or have engaged us for?” I think net promoter score could be a really simple way with every customer interaction to understand, “Are you on the right track?”

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah, no, I agree with you. It’s easy to ask, it’s easy to collect data on, and doing a running total of that is really good. And then even with a net promoter score, you may have an individual client who chooses to leave. And so then trying to have a follow up conversation, call it an exit interview or something to say, “Hey, can you tell us what we did? Can you tell us what we did right, what we did wrong? What’s one thing you would have us improve if we could?” And then to use that data to actually make things better so that even when we have the vast majority of our folks saying great things, we can still take action on where we could have issues going on in the organization.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, Yeah. It’s so true. And it’s something that if you get in the process of assuming that you’re a learning organization, that you’re really trying to get better, most customers, if you lose them, will tell you, “This is what went wrong. This is why we made another choice.” It can be across a whole variety of things that cause them to leave. It’s also a good thing to put as part of your proposal efforts as well. If you ever lose a deal you expected to win, asking that potential customer, that potential client, “Why weren’t we chosen?” Not in a defensive way, but because you really want to learn. If you can get that information, it will just make you a more effective organization overall. No doubt about it.

Jeff Standridge:
No, I agree with that completely. You’re exactly right. Let’s shift over and talk about employee satisfaction.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, this is a tough one, and a lot of us who have been in large organizations, you take a crass or jaundiced view of “Yeah, here comes the annual employee satisfaction survey.” And there can be elements of that where you say, “Yeah, am I going to be completely truthful even though there’s complete anonymity? Is somebody going to know that I’ve been completely candid in this.” So part of that, I think it can be a really effective tool as long as there’s non attribution, non retribution, and there’s also a core value of trust and fierce and candid communication being allowed and desired. And if you do that, employee satisfaction surveys, that can be a mix of both quantitative and qualitative responses, you can just learn an awful lot. Especially if, as leaders, you take action on some of what you learn, so it’s not just an exercise to check a box.

Jeff Standridge:
No, I agree with you completely there. Gallup actually has what they call their Q12 and it’s 12 questions that they’ve used to measure satisfaction. There’s a big debate out there around measuring satisfaction versus measuring engagement. I don’t really get caught up too much in that debate, I think they are part and parcel to one another.

But another way that you can kind of overcome that trust issue is actually have it administered by a third party. Whether it’s a local third party or it’s a national third party to say, “Hey, here is the portal. It’s an external link. It doesn’t sit on our servers, and you can go and complete it and there’s no way for us to tie it back to the individuals.”

Another way that you can do that is, and we used to do this in a larger organization, is if there were less than five people on a team, we didn’t report the team level results because that starts to get too small of a sample size. You can start to anticipate who said what and so we didn’t want to create that.

The other thing around an employee satisfaction survey or even a customer satisfaction survey for that matter, is to run some focus groups in tandem. When you get those survey questions back and it says, “Okay, this is where we experienced some downward trends from the last couple of years, or some downturns, so let’s talk about what do you guys experience there?” We had a downward trend here, and I don’t know what’s expected from me at work.” Or “My leader seems to care about me as a person,” or some of the questions that we ask in our survey. And so using a qualitative feedback session to unpack some of those quantitative questions that people have scored, and then that helps us to figure out from an action plan perspective, what do we need to do?

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent agree. I mean, that gives you kind of the basics of understanding. We’ve talked about this in other episodes, Jack Welch used to say in Straight From the Gut, he was obviously one of those sort of iconic leaders that provided a lot of good benchmarks, but he would occasionally take a deep dive in a particular area, to understand, he’d go deep. In other words, he would go past the chains of command and really try to understand something. I think that can be an effective way that a senior leader can learn more about the organization and stay in touch with what’s going on at various levels.

Not to, in any way, disadvantage or demean the chain of command, so to speak, but just you can’t always know what’s going on in every level if you’re too distant from it. So walking around, engaging at the lowest levels of the organization, listening to people and having folks at all levels understand that you’re not there to spy on anybody, that you’re really there to learn. That can help you spot both areas of excellence, performance that you might not have seen, and also areas of dissatisfaction that you might not have heard of otherwise.

It’s kind of natural for supervisory and line leaders at times to paint a rosy picture. Nobody really wants to be the bearer of bad news. First of all, you got to tell them if something’s an issue or if you’ve got satisfaction issues. We got things we aren’t doing right in compensation, motivation, benefits, whatever it may be, surface those. And so that whole idea of walking around, being accessible and engaging, occasionally taking deep dives, I think can be really helpful as well.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s a great point. We talked about management by walking around and having regular one-on-one meetings as a way to create critical consistent channels of communication, but it’s also a way to establish non-threatening ways for both customer and employee feedback. When I was leading, I always knew who my top 10 customers were in the organization, and I had a cadence of reaching out to those top 10 customers proactively on a quarterly basis to just say, “Hey, how are things going? What are we doing well? What are we not doing so well? What would you love for us to do that we’re not doing?” And that was just that management by walking around, or a one on one, so to speak.

I also knew who my top 20% in the organization were in terms of individual contributors. Because we did a collective talent review, and I knew who those rock stars were, and I did the same thing with them. I spent more time with them as an executive, because those are the ones that I wanted to hear from on a regular basis. Because number one, they’re the ones that I needed to have fully engaged on a regular basis that probably had the most critical, but also the most constructive feedback about how to better run the organization and folks that I wanted to know darn sure that they were valued and listened to in the organization.

Jeff Amerine:
Sure. Yeah, critically important. Great stuff, Jeff.

Jeff Standridge:
Very good. So we’re talking about systems for customer and employee feedback. Things like measuring net promoter score with your customers, employee satisfaction surveys, but then also having, call them focus groups or action planning sessions, where you can unpack some of those scores and really understand qualitatively what’s going on. And also not just for creating critical and consistent channels of communication, but also creating an opportunity for your employees and your customers to give you feedback. Leveraging that management by walking around and having regular, one on one, meetings as well. Great ways to make sure that there’s a constant system in place for collecting customer and employee feedback. No surprises. No blindside.

Jeff Amerine:
Great stuff, Jeff.

Jeff Standridge:
Good stuff. Thanks guys. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. Thanks for joining.

Jeff Amerine:
See you next time.

Jeff Amerine (Outro):
Feedback from listeners like you helps us create outstanding content. So if you like this episode, be sure to rate us or leave a review. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest growth in innovation strategies. Thanks for tuning in to the Innovation Junkies podcast.

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