Feedback is one of the greatest quality tools ever invented. Think about it a moment; who knows better whether you are meeting the customer’s quality expectations than the customer themselves. So, their feedback is essentially a quality control report, telling you how well you are meeting the only quality specification that matters… that of the customer.
We can spend hour or days deciding what quality level we are planning to work to, but it really doesn’t matter. I say that because the customer ultimately determines what level of quality they are willing to pay for. Anything more than that is wasted effort. Anything less than that and you’re providing a defective product.
Let’s look at a common household item, the blender. You can produce a gold plated, diamond studded mixer, which has all roller bearing construction, tungsten carbide blades, a five horsepower motor and is able to chop up books, computers, cell phones, and even the occasional power tool. That little jewel is only going to cost $5,000.
The women who is looking for a blender for her kitchen will see it there is going to see it in the store, neatly lined up with all the other blenders and be impressed by the gold and diamonds. Her husband is going to be impressed by the tungsten carbide blades and five horsepower motor. They’re both probably going to have a good laugh at the videos your marketing department puts together, where they are chopping up the books, computers, cell phones and power tools. After all that, they’re going to buy a competitors blender for $14.95.
What happened? Your blender was clearly the best blender on the market. It had more power, sharper blades, better looks and better construction. There’s only one thing it was missing; it wasn’t what the customer wanted. They might have been impressed, but they didn’t want to pay $5,000 for a blender.
Okay, so how does this apply to training? We can do the same thing with our training programs, as we just did with the design of that blender. We can be so committed to creating the best possible training program, that we totally miss what our customers and our learners want. Instead of giving them what they are looking for, we end up giving them a lot of extra work and a lot of useless information.
That’s where feedback comes in. There is no way of knowing what the customer wants, without talking to the customer. Feedback provides a way of constantly receiving input from the customer, so that you can tailor your product, the training you offer, to their needs, instead of to some theoretical model you have in your head. Ultimately, that will help you provide the customer with better training, which is more suited to their needs.
For feedback to be effective, it has to make sense. Have you looked at the product reviews that people write on e-commerce websites? There’s one thing that really stands out about them, they’re all different. No two people write about the same things, or quantify the product’s strengths and weaknesses in the same way. That sort of feedback is virtually useless.
What you need is feedback that provides you with information which you can use, in order to modify your training to better meet your customers’ needs. So, you need to ask specific questions, which will provide you with specific information that you need. That’s why feedback forms have to be well designed, asking specific questions, which provide you with the information you need.
Get some feedback from your customers. In fact, get a lot. Just make sure that the feedback you get, is something that you can use. Ask for feedback that answers your questions about their satisfaction, not that just gives them a chance to say whatever they want.