Optimising Your Post-Survey Follow-up Process
(The Final Part Five Of A Five Part Series):
From the series: Improving Survey Effectiveness – Common Survey Pitfalls … And How To Avoid Them.
Part: Five Of Five
Written By: Paul Quinn
What’s worse than NOT collecting feedback from your staff or customers? Collecting feedback from your staff or customers and then doing nothing with the results.
Research suggests there may be an inherent financial penalty for not paying enough attention to actioning your survey results . Employees who answered ‘Strongly Agree’ to the statement that ‘Action plans from the last survey have had a positive impact on my workplace’ had overall engagement levels that were up to 10% higher than other employees. And as we know, low staff engagement scores have a direct negative impact on the bottom line. As such, it’s crucial from an engagement perspective that organisations demonstrate they value the time and opinions of survey respondents by putting a clear structure in place to act on the feedback received.
Not only are staff engagement levels impacted by whether or not you follow through on the information gathered but the opportunity to effect positive change can also be compromised. Often survey results will reveal tangible suggestions to improve processes that can save time and money, so not moving on these obviously has a direct impact on the performance of the organisation.
Also, to keep your survey ‘brownie points’ intact and ensure your staff or customers are motivated to provide feedback again in the future it is important to act on information received. Management lose a great deal of credibility and the willingness of respondents to participate if the information collected simply falls into a black hole.
In this article we provide a number of practical measures you can take to optimise your Post-Survey follow-up process:
1. Establish A Survey Action Committee (Before Your Survey is Run).
Organisations committed to effecting positive change as a result of running staff or customer surveys will often establish a survey ‘Action Committee’ before the survey is run. The survey ‘Action Committee’ may consist of 4-5 staff members in influential positions who represent key areas of the business.
In establishing this type of committee before your survey runs you signify to your respondents that you are serious about listening to and actioning their feedback. In addition, as the committee includes representatives from key areas of the business, the goodwill that often filters throughout the business as a result of involving these stakeholders can often transpire into greater project engagement and higher survey participation rates. (NB: The tasks typically covered by a survey action committee are discussed in point 3 below).
2. Deliver Any Incentives Offered
It’s all very well to offer appealing incentives to boost survey response rates (indeed we actively encourage our clients to explore the use of incentives), however you must ensure you follow through on your promise. If all respondents who complete the survey go into the draw to win the latest Apple iPad, make sure someone is assigned the task of selecting the winner and then ensure the incentive is purchased and delivered. Don’t forget the important task of communicating the winner to all respondents too (i.e. don’t just send a congratulatory email to the winner). It sounds simple, but in the excitement of receiving your survey results this task can sometimes be overlooked. But while you might forget, chances are your audience won’t have forgotten by the time it comes to asking them to participate in your next survey.
3. Communicate Your Results And Establish A Plan of Attack To Address Key Issues
You need to make sure your staff or customers feel that the investment they have made in contributing their time and ideas to your survey has been worthwhile. As discussed in point one above, we recommend the establishment of a survey action committee to help with the results communication task.
A survey action committee’s tasks can include:
- Reviewing a final draft of the questionnaire to ensure buy-in and satisfaction that the questions asked are relevant to their area of the business and will deliver them useful information in reports.
- Reviewing results within a week of survey close-off. A nominated committee chair should also be responsible for delivering a briefing about the results to the executive team and selected members of the senior management group. The briefing may include:
- Company wide strengths and weaknesses.
- Trend analysis (often broken down by region or division).
- Key drivers.
- Recommended action focus points.
- The sending of an executive summary of survey results to all staff (or can be sent to customers if running customer surveys). The executive summary should highlight key findings, any areas that may need further exploration, and highlight a high level action plan for improving in relevant areas.
- Develop a detailed survey action plan – assigning task ‘owners’, timelines, and agreed dates for follow-up.
- Set-up, where appropriate, specific post-survey problem-solving teams. Some organisations select 1 or 2 key issues that have been identified as a result of the survey and then establish mini problem-solving teams set-up specifically to further analyse each issue and formulate recommendations to resolve. The overriding question for the team to address should be ‘What would it take for us to improve to a score of 5 out of 5 for this area?’
4. Regularly Report Back To Participants On New Initiatives
Whilst devising and communicating survey action plans after the survey has run is important, so too is regular ongoing communication (e.g. quarterly) regarding the status of survey-specific initiatives. For example, if you asked your customers to suggest what new product features they would like to see, then give them an update in 3 or 4 months time regarding which of their suggested features are being scoped and implemented.
5. Set Survey-based KPIs
A great way to reinforce the value and importance of your survey program is to develop KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) based on your survey results, and aim to beat that result when the survey is next run in 6 or 12 months. For example, an organisation may establish a KPI to: “Improve our 2010 ‘Service Effectiveness’ score of 78% by at least 3 percentage points in our 2011 client survey”.
6. Integrate Aspects Of This Year’s Survey Results Into Planning For Next Year’s Questionnaire
It can sometimes be a good idea to integrate questions regarding 2 or 3 of the biggest perceived weaknesses from the previous year’s survey into the following year’s questionnaire. For example:
‘Last year feedback from staff indicated the organisation was under-performing in the area of staff training and development plans.
To what extend, if any, do you feel that we have improved in this area over the last 12 months?’
This approach is an excellent way to reinforce to respondents that the feedback they provide is carefully listened to and that each year strategies are actioned to try and address key weaknesses.
In implementing the suggestions above you not only help ensure the success of your survey project, but at the same time help assure yourself of high participation rates from respondents for any future surveys you run.
Previous Issues in This Series:
Part One: Poorly Produced Survey Invites
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