NPS Blog

Asking for feedback, but actually getting honest answers

Net Promoter System podcastA few years ago, I bought a new luxury car. While I had struggled with the decision about which make and model to buy, once I locked in, I had a really good experience. A dealer not too far from my home had my model in stock, and he did an outstanding job of making me feel like I was his only customer. He made me feel like I got a fair deal and seemed to do his best to make the process painless.

Of course, the best time when you’re buying a new car is that moment you finally take the keys in hand, stride out to your vehicle and fire up the brand new engine. I felt that tinge of excitement—maybe even bordering on elation—as I sped through the paperwork on the appointed day. Right outside the floor-to-ceiling glass window sat my new car, gleaming in the afternoon sun. My keys were sprawled on the table in front of me, calling to me. The anticipation grew.

And when that moment came—when I’d signed the last bit of paper and the car was mine—that’s when the sky suddenly darkened.

“Mr. Markey,” said the salesman as he gripped one of those leather folio things that holds paperwork, “I just need one more thing.” He edged around the table so he could be right next to me, popped open the folio, pulled out a pen and showed me what was inside. “In a few days, you are going to get a survey. It will look just like this.” He circled two questions. “This question, and this question here. These will determine my future. If just one customer gives me anything but a 10 on either of these questions, I could lose my spot as a top salesman.”

This illustrates just one of the complexities of allowing frontline employees to participate in collecting customer feedback. Even employees who aren’t at risk of losing their top spot on the sales league tables find it hard to resist influencing customers. They might circle the survey link at the bottom of a register receipt, and write their names and add smiley faces to encourage a friendly customer to give feedback. Or they might even stand over a customer who is responding to a survey on a tablet at the point of sale. In any of these cases, the customer’s input is bound to be biased and could easily mask deeper problems that management might never see.

And yet, despite all the potential pitfalls, some companies manage to collect high-quality feedback on-site. Some even find that they can get high-quality feedback when the employees are collecting it directly. My latest guests on the Net Promoter System podcast provide one example of a situation where this seems to be working

gautam-mahtani-120x113I recently talked to Gautam Mahtani (pictured right), co-founder of Customer Feedback Systems, whose technology enables clients to collect Net Promoter feedback at the point of service. Phil Fagan and Sarah Cooper of HealthCare Partners of Nevada use Gautam’s technology to gather input from patients of the company’s physicians. Patients typically share their thoughts through tablet computers immediately after a provider interaction.

Gautam’s company and HealthCare Partners provide a fascinating case study in point-of-service feedback requests. Many companies would envy HealthCare Partners’ 80% response rate. And the rapid input has allowed the company to improve its processes quickly, whether it’s scheduling more staff during busier hours to reduce waiting times or adding a 24-hour hotline that allows patients to check on prescriptions.

phil-fegan-120x130HealthCare Partners doesn’t use the feedback to punish providers or determine compensation. The company doesn’t post the scores to create competition among its clinics. Sarah and Phil say this philosophy has been key to making the program work.

“This is patient feedback to improve the patient experience, period,” says Phil (pictured left).

You can listen to my discussion with Gautam, Phil and Sarah on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to browse more Net Promoter System podcasts.

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