By Bernard Wainaina
CEO,Profarms Consultants®

Juma,my childhood friend is fond of doing odd jobs in my compound,if only to help us catch up with our childhood memories and escapades.

He pops in now and then,when I’m home on weekends,and we slash grass in my lawn,burn trash and occasionally,we grill one of my indigenous chicken in my charcoal jiko(stove).

Roasted chicken is one of his favourites,and seeking the trouble we get into to get the fire going,he brought in a full gunny bag of waste paper to help us kindle the fire fast enough for his favourite dish!

I was curious of the contents of his ganny bag and I leafed through a few forms in the waste paper lot.

To my surprise,they were customer feedback forms from a reputable local bank,some dated as recently as a week before he brought them in.

I was ashamed of how this bank treats its customer feedback forms as well as market survey questionnaires.

Anyway,there is still a big heap of this forms in my garage that we use to start our charcoal stove,and every time juma pinches a heap to start the fire,I flinch at the disrespect that this bank has shown to its customer feedback!

IN MANY organisations, there are piles and piles of customer feedback.

I do not literally mean loads of feedback forms
piled at a corner; I mean feedback that staff receive during daily customer interactions.

The feedback could be in form of questions (why this or why that); it could be in form of suggestions (why not consider this; or have you thought about this); it could be shared as a
compliment (I like this or I love it); or it could even be a complaint (I do not like this, or I hate that).

Customer feedback is one of the measures of an
organisation’s success.

Feedback received in a single customer survey could result to major improvements that can
push the organisation forward for a number of years.

Unfortunately, though, most feedback received during surveys and feedback directly from staff is not taken seriously.

Many frontline staff, and even managers, keep such feedback to themselves, denying the organisation the opportunity to keep getting better.

A few days ago, I asked why the printer at the boarding gate was not functional.

It concerned me because, having checked-
in online and with an electronic boarding pass, I was asked to go back to the check-in counters downstairs to print a manual boarding pass because they did not have scanners.

I wondered if any other passenger with an electronic boarding pass had expressed the same concern and if anything had been done about such feedback.

Cockroach roaming

While on board a few minutes later, we pointed out that a cockroach was roaming in the cabin.

We were left with the feeling that it was not the first time the crew was being alerted about cockroaches in the cabin.

In yet another organisation, I asked a member of staff what they did with the feedback in
the complaints box.

She said the manager reads them every month and puts them away as most customers do not give their contacts.

In yet another organisation, a major customer satisfaction survey had been conducted; a report had been prepared but there was no evidence of the actions resulting from the

These are examples of opportunities lost.

Mixed vegetables

Organisations that take customer feedback seriously keep getting better.

I have no doubt that every forward looking
organisation would give examples of improvements they have made after receiving customer feedback.

I know of an organisation that extended its closing hours because of suggestions received from customers.

An Organic restaurant added mixed indigenous vegetables to its menu as an accompaniment to fries because of customer feedback.

A hotel changed the colour of its towels and the detergents it was using because of customer feedback.

What have you done differently because of customer feedback?

Customer feedback received directly by staff need to be acknowledged on the spot, and customers who participate in surveys need to be alerted that their feedback will be used to
improve their experience.

Customers should be made to feel that their feedback is important to the organisation’s success.

Feedback received from across all channels should be analysed and an action plan, with the opportunities identified, put together.

Do something about the customer feedback that
you have been receiving!

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®