Last week I had the great pleasure of speaking to a conference at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. The event was for Atlantic Canadian Alumni of the Directors Education Program from the Institute of Corporate Directors, and was on the topic of Governance and Disruption.
There were a lot of ‘big questions’ being debated in the room, particularly around the paradoxes that are arising in being a Director in times of such uncertainty and change. The role of management and of Directors is changing, and every firm needs to think about how they are managing the interrelated areas of Innovation, Disruption, Customer Behaviour Change, and Technology Evolution – and the impacts of all of these on both the strategy and risk profile of a firm.
It was extremely refreshing to see such energy around the evolution of good governance! Bravo to the Institute of Corporate Directors, The Sobey School of Business, and the Atlantic Canada Directors Education Alumni for putting together such a great event!
My session in particular was around the steps that Directors need to take to ensure good strategy and good governance in these times of disruption. I thought I’d share my slides from the event here…obviously there was a lot of dialogue that went with the slides – so feel free to ask me any questions that you may have…
I was recently making a purchase and the salesperson told me that I would be getting a follow-up email asking for feedback on my experience. He told me that he would really appreciate if I could rate him ‘10’ on all items (out of 10). He told me that anything less than a 10 is seen as failure at his company and it really badly affects his performance review and pay.
At first I thought this was the reaction of one overzealous salesperson. So I asked other people who I knew had done business with this company, with other reps and other locations. Every person I spoke with told me they had gotten the same heartfelt request from their sales person.
In my mind there are three main objectives of customer feedback gathering:
To find out if there is something that has been missed with the customer so that you can act on it immediately,
To learn what elements of your product or service experience are important to your customer, and
To learn where you are excellent (protect that), good (improve that), and falling down (improve that quickly)
A company that has created a system where the entire organization is incented to get a certain score on every question, whether it is true or not, is failing at these objectives. In this situation I would suggest that the customer feedback gathering investment is not only useless, it is likely harmful and creating a company centric vs. customer centric stance in the team.
Communicating and sharing customer feedback with the front-line is critical. All employees need to be congratulated and rewarded for doing great and they equally need to know how they can do better. The key is to be able to use feedback throughout your organization in a way that builds a relentless curiosity for the truth of the customers’ feedback, and a passion for improving. Doing this is tricky, but it absolutely can be done.
Building an honest and constructive feedback process is worth your energy, time and leadership investment. Don’t be seduced by the score – instead be relentless in truly learning how you are making your customers feel, and where you can improve your true results.