Customer Feedback Forms

Dear Management Doctor:

The Director of Planning and Development, to whom I report, attended your course The Complete Management Course for Planning Directors. One of the items discussed was a customer feedback form to be used for measuring and improving customer service at a planning "front counter" and/or other areas. The director has the workbook from the course, but there does not appear to be a template in the workbook although he seems to recall seeing one at the course. As this is an idea we would like to implement in our office, we are wondering if you might have a template available that we might use or modify for use in our office. We look forward to your response.

Thank you.

Paula

Dear Paula,

There are a variety of ways to obtain customer feedback and I recommend trying all of them and seeing which ones work best for you. Based on your email, I am going to concentrate, for this response, on the counter feedback systems. Here are a few ideas.

  1. Restaurant Example
    One of the best restaurants I ever ate at was in Victoria, Canada. With the bill I received the small comment card (see below). Note several things on this card:
    1. If you couldn't rate them "Excellent" or "Above Average" they wanted to know why.
    2. There is a key question toward the bottom of the card, "Could you give us one recommendation or idea that you feel would improve our restaurant." Even though this was a great restaurant, I had a suggestion for improvement. The approach changed me from a complainer to a participant in making the restaurant even better. Whatever else you do, make certain you have this question on your survey.
  2. One Question Survey
    It is difficult to get people to spend the time to fill out a survey - you need to work at it. I have been trying to get a city or county to try the attached one question survey. So far no takers, but I still like the idea.
  3. San Diego County
    Below is a survey I used many years ago in San Diego County. We borrowed the phrase "How did we rate with you?" from a hotel. We had some success with the survey. However, if I were doing it today I would:
    1. Make it smaller
    2. Include the return postage
    3. Include that key question I discussed above
  4. Others
    Below are two other examples. You can see here how the, "How did we rate with you?" phrase blossomed into, "How Are We Doing?" and "How Did We Do?"
  5. Suggestions
    1. Have the cards in easy to see and pick up locations
    2. Have a comment box handy so they can be left on the spot
    3. Have return postage so they can be mailed back
    4. When you get them, actually use them for improvement
    5. Occasionally, simply hand one to a customer and ask if they would complete it before they leave.
    6. Attach them to permits
In addition to customer comment cards, there are a variety of other techniques you should consider including:
  1. Do a more comprehensive mail survey every two years.
  2. Require email addresses on all applications and periodically send simple surveys to the addresses. Using something like Survey Monkey can increase the responses you receive.
  3. Try a few exit interviews. Get a college student or volunteer to help with these.
  4. Check out the customer section on our Management Doctor search engine at zuckersystems.com.
  5. Call a few customers each month and ask how things went. Don't forget that question:
    Could you give us one recommendation or idea that you feel would improve our department?
Let me know how any of this works for you.

The Management Doctor

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Reader Response

We required applicants to countersign permits and return a copy. We attached a comment card survey with the letter going out with the permit. We included the comment card and stapled it to an envelope with pre-paid postage. I bought the stamps myself. We also, however, had a two-for-one coupon from a local frozen yogurt shop stapled to the form. We increased our return rate from about 30% to 75%. All the surveys were, of course, anonymous, but the envelope was addressed directly to me as director and marked "Personal and Confidential." Almost everyone included their name and address, and if they did, I sent them a letter letting them know how their comments were handled.

Eric Jay Toll