TBT Customer Feedback

When it comes to consequences in the workplace, I believe that there are hundreds of things you can do if you are willing to get creative. Businesses limit themselves in this area but in a perfect world, with the ideal budgets and time to devote to it, you can get creative and establish appropriate conditions to encourage a successful working environment. 

One kind of consequence that we have all been exposed to as customers, is customer feedback. So, even though you know that this information should ultimately benefit the organization with which you have been a customer, how many times have you actually waited on the line after a call to give feedback after a 2 hour wait and 30 minute phone call that left you with nothing but frustration and a between-the-eyes headache? How often have you gone online after shopping at XYZ Giant Clothing Chain to fill out a customer survey for that one-in-a-million shot at a $250 gift certificate? Never. I literally never do this. But why? I mean, as someone who knows the value it could potentially have, why don't I? Easy. I don't want to. I don't have the time, and quite frankly I don't care enough. Same as you.

This is the reality of behavior. If it's "optional" and we have a myriad of other competing behaviors that we could be engaging in, then what you are looking for better be a) super easy, b) take 2 minutes or less of my time, b) have an immediate consequence that I care about or be in and of itself an interesting experience. Yes, you might need to get creative but we are talking about customers. Not your employees, your child or your students. Customers don't HAVE to do anything. Their behaviors are entirely up to them and anything you ask of them is COMPLETELY optional. So, it will take effort, a solid understanding of human behavior and a willingness to get creative.

In the spirit of Throw Back Thursday and because I'm sitting here again in Germany two years after this was originally taken...here is a picture I took of a really successful customer feedback survey back in September of 2012.

What are we looking at here?

It's a touch screen on the wall near the exit of a bathroom in Munich's international airport. It is asking for bathroom "customers" to provide feedback on the cleanliness of the women's restroom. 

So what behavior would it affect?

Bathroom cleaning to a thorough enough level that would satisfy most bathroom patrons.

Ok so now that we have done some operational defining (yes, I'm making that a new verb). Let's talk about why this works so well and why this is the ONLY survey in the history of customer surveys that I ever filled out.

Typically, a customer who is naturally motivated to fill out a customer satisfaction survey is someone who had a particular experience (normally a poor one) and in an effort to either a) feel better after complaining or b) make the situation better for next time, they will provide feedback.

Within this bathroom context, there is very little possibility for either of those things to occur. In fact since this is a bathroom at in international airport, customers may never experience the potential results of the survey-- that you will experience a cleaner bathroom next time or experience the same level of cleanliness.

But this airport's managerial staff seems to have followed the Rulebook for Making Behavior Happen for Dummies (otherwise titled, Common Sense Behaviorism). If you would like a total stranger (who has a myriad of other behaviors to choose from) to do something for you, you must ensure that what you are asking is:

  • super easy
  • take 2 minutes or less of my time
  • provide me with immediate reinforcement (that I care about) or be in and of itself an interesting experience

I was on my way out of the loo, saw this on the wall and knew within 10 seconds what it was asking me and how I was meant to respond (extra points for having a bilingual sign). I thought the restroom was quite clean so I took another 2 seconds out of my life to hit the green smiley face and was off to meet my (then) boyfriend without having gone out of my way at all.

And that's how you do it.

Is this the only way for every business? No. Of course not. Every business has it's nuances and intricacies but it does show us a model that went somewhat outside of the box to get the consequences it needed for its people to ultimately benefit the businesses goals of the organization. 

P.S. Newark, for the love of everything that is Holy... contact me and let's do something like this for those abominations you call Lavatories!