Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to learn nothing from patients

As we consider again the expertise shown by the folks at Legoland in responding to customers, consider this alternative view presented by Rob Markey on the HBR Blog Network.  The article is called "Five Ways to Learn Nothing from Your Customers' Feedback."  I'm struck by how often hospitals behave in these ways--sometimes on their own volition, but often with the wrong kind of "encouragement" from the government and insurers. An excerpt:

I have studied a lot of customer feedback systems in the 25 years I’ve spent working with companies on customer strategy. Many of them leave me sad and befuddled. So many companies make the same mistakes over and over.

The leaders of these companies seem to want to hear from their customers — that’s why they spend so much money on elaborate “voice of the customer” and other feedback systems. But the approach many of these companies take to implementing such systems seems almost as if it were designed to ensure nobody in the organization will actually learn anything from what they hear. And if employees don’t learn anything, how can they take action to make things better?

If I were writing a “how-not-to” manual for customer feedback — a manual that would guarantee your feedback system taught your employees nothing about how to delight customers and earn their loyalty — here are the five rules it might include:

1. Aggregate the feedback into scores, percentages, and averages — and stop there.  
2. Hold the feedback.
3. Eliminate the human voice.
4. Ensure that there’s a lot at stake.
5. Never close the loop with customers.

(Thanks to reader Nonlocal MD for sending along this link!)   

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