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Effective feedback collection starts at the top

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Peter Gardner of Curry Printing and Tony Narducci of O'Neill Printing have it right. They are both strong leaders who pick team leaders effectively and make a point to share customer feedback openly with their entire teams. Trusting employees, delegating effectively and encouraging change is a sign of a strong leader. I know, you thought this article was about leveraging customer feedback. My point is that feedback will effectively drive team performance only if management is engaged in the process, views all customer feedback as positive and productive, and supports employees making decisions.

Survey feedback is only the beginning, and setting up a process to review survey results and engage the team is critical to driving the business. A monthly review of comments with the team can be effective. Reviewing comments and clustering them into common themes — product quality, speed of followup, meeting deadlines, etc. — is a powerful management tool to help everyone stay customer focused and improve the customer experience. I suggest first speaking about the positive comments you are receiving. Praise jobs well done and the appreciation customers shared for the quality of work and service they experienced. Next, look at areas of improvement for the coming month or quarter based on the ratings and commentary shared by customers. You might want to dig deeper into your quote turnaround process and speak with your estimating team, creating a cross-department task force to lay out the way the process should work, along with goals and responsibilities. The same may be necessary for prepress errors. Trending this information from month to month helps the entire team measure the results of their efforts.

In summary,

  • Pick the right team leaders to drive improvement.
  • Always start with the positive comments. There are plenty of them.
  • Create cross-department task forces to fix process inconsistencies.
  • Share customer comments openly with team members.
  • Trend performance over time to track progress.

Remember that leadership starts at the top and flows downhill. A foundation of strong leadership focused on fact-based decision making is the surest way to continue your success.

Michael Casey is president and founder of Survey Advantage ( He is a strategic partner with NAPL supporting its consulting and research practices, he integrates project surveying with MIS systems and he is an approved supplier for several franchise networks.