Feedback displays. You see them everywhere these days. A few years ago it was usually only after going through security at the airport. But now they’re everywhere. The local swimming pool, public toilets, shops, cafes. What do all these businesses seek to accomplish with their feedback displays?
Recognise the scenario?
After travelling to the airport by train, consulting information displays to find the check-in desk, waiting in line, dropping off luggage and scanning your boarding pass, the best part is yet to come…Security!
Waiting in line again, reading all the signs about what’s allowed or not and watching how other passengers go about it. Finally, it’s your turn. You put everything in the trays provided and feel good when the security staff have no comments about your ‘tray strategy’.
Next, comes the body scan. You put your hands in the air and stand still, or walk through the machine. An optional pat down by a member of the security staff might follow, depending on your luck.
Collecting my belongings and not forgetting anything
By the time you get the friendly gesture telling you to move on and collect your belongings, your jeans are almost hanging down to your knees. You have to try and collect your bag, laptop, phone and coins whilst waiting for your belt to arrive in the final tray. There’s also the possibility that you then have to find somewhere to try and jam your shoes back on while other people try and get past you. You’ll definitely have to spend time shoving everything back into your bag and pockets.
After this, you’re red-faced and sweaty, but feel like you’ve conquered the world, or at least survived a minor ordeal.
And then, there, if you’re paying attention, there might be a feedback display that asks;
Still busy with the logistics of getting yourself back together, you prod the smiley button and walk away. It’s time for the next challenge – boarding.
From large to local businesses
The above example is obviously from a complex organisation with multiple stakeholders, dealing with a large volume of customers on a daily basis. But it gives you an indication of all the actors and factors that are involved in the boarding process. It makes sense that they might want and need to gather feedback.
However, when I saw a feedback display in my local swimming pool, I was surprised. It said: Are you happy with the hospitality today? and when I went to the toilet there was another display asking Are you satisfied with the hygiene in this toilet? These local businesses are small, more personal and only a few stakeholders are involved. Still, they feel they have to use these feedback displays. It made me wonder what value they get from them.
Keep the customer away from the real conversation
These small businesses intrigue me. Are the feedback displays plugged in? Are they just there to give the appearance of caring about our feedback and doing something with it?
It almost seems that they avoid a real conversation with their customers by putting displays between the organisation and their users. But perhaps they work as a way to initiate conversation. I don’t know.
Why do they want my feedback?
I’m fascinated by this ‘trend’ of collecting continuous feedback from customers. It raises a lot of questions around 3 topics:
What kind of business benefits do these displays provide? Collecting feedback is easy, but how do you interpret it and make it useful and actionable?
I know the displays translate the feedback into a ‘visual dashboard’ which it’s possible to filter based on parameters like time, location, amount of responses etc. But questions abound: What are the benefits of having a ‘dashboard’? Who is responsible within the organisation for analysing the data and making periodical reports? How can this information be embedded and made part of the organisation? Also, how do you impart feedback and training to employees based on the positive and negative scores? And let’s not forget the issue of how to prevent ‘hacking’ by your own employees (who’s to stop them from pressing the ‘very satisfied’ button every time they use the toilet?).
From a customer perspective, this is just a way to express your feelings about one interaction within one department (eg. security). Is the data kept siloed so there’s lots of information about this one fragment of the customer journey? Are the displays connected with others (in other departments/sections). Is data from other sources compiled and consolidated to make the output more coherent? How do we know the customer decision of which button to push is based on the feedback display question? Do we take it for granted or do we build in margins of error? And can we see the feedback from these feedback displays?
Over the last few months I’ve been taking photos of the different feedback displays I encounter and my colleagues have started sending me photos to add to my collection. I see there is a lot of variety in shape, colour, size, height but especially in the number and variety of buttons and how they are positioned. These inconsistencies must influence the customer a lot when making a quick decision about which button to push. This topic alone is worth a blog post 🙂
More questions than answers
As a service designer, this whole issue fascinates me.
Is this an empty trend? Or something that keeps evolving, enabling organisations to become better listeners?
I’m convinced that a service design approach can support and consolidate the data obtained by feedback displays by making the human-side visible and connecting the dots throughout the customer journey in a more holistic way than just asking people to prod a button at one touchpoint.
I’d like to get answers to these questions. I’d love to connect with people who work with these feedback displays and can explain their value and their role in the larger aims of the organisation and its relationship with its customers.If you stumble upon a feedback display, please take a picture and send it to email@example.com. I’ll add it to my Instagram ‘howwasyourexperience’ or simply add the hashtag #feedbackdisplays to your own images online.