What is a Suggestion Box?
A suggestion box is a common tool in business to get information about quality of the business from the customer or employee standpoint. The typical suggestion box is a box into which people could insert notes, ideas for business improvement or surveys. Lots of other suggestion forums exist, and these include many virtual online boxes, mail-in survey forms, or suggestion bulletin boards.
It’s important to differentiate the suggestion box concept as used by employees or customers. Employee suggestions reveal a lot about relations with employers and even can create a forum for suggestions on how to improve customer experience. Some employees can be concerned that negative criticisms of an employer could result in difficult consequences. To this end, many employers keep the suggestion box anonymous, as long as employees remain respectful. Suggestions from anonymous employees could give employers a strong sense of how effectively they interact with employees.
The customer suggestion box gives companies a way to determine customer satisfaction. Implementing some suggestions makes customers feel that their opinions count, and there are usually plenty of suggestions to choose from that are useful. In fact, some companies ask if they can use the customer’s name when they make a change, so that they can show in other literature like flyers that they really are there to serve the customer. Failure to address the suggestion box contents could have an adverse effect, but even if suggestions aren’t always taken, customers may still feel more loyalty to companies by being given the power to suggest, praise, and censure.
Social media and Web 2.0 applications have taken the suggestion box to a different level, helping organizations gauge customer interaction on a variety of fronts at a variety of times. Many websites offer many ways to make a comment, ask a question or report problems with use. Some sites also have surveys that can be taken before, during or after use that can be analyzed to find methods of increasing customer satisfaction. These tools work best if they’re relatively brief and easy to use. If all it takes to report trouble on a website is the click of a button, chances are that the button will be clicked more often.
Businesses that use any form of survey in place of the suggestion box need to be aware of two factors. First, they will likely get the most responses from people who are strongly opposed or in support of a business practice. This is a self-selected survey and most people without strong feeling one way or the other will not take the time to fill these out. Therefore, results have to be viewed as representing extreme points of view.
Second, any form has to be short. Most people won’t take long surveys because it wastes time, and there are too many companies making similar requests. By making something short and possibly offering an incentive, such as a discount, customers may more readily comply with an invitation to rate the company or offer suggestions.
Sometimes when I am really upset about the quality of service I receive at a place, usually restaurants, I will put pen to paper and drop a note in the suggestion box. If there is no suggestion box then I will most likely bite my tongue and walk away feeling frustrated.
I know there is a good chance that nothing will come of my suggestions, but I feel better just getting my concerns or complaints out and on paper. Otherwise, I carry them around with me for the next hour, and sometimes longer.
At the place where I work, management set up a suggestion box. They said the idea was to create a means for workers to voice their opinions and not feel threatened and not feel concerned about how they will be perceived because of their ideas.
Well, a couple weeks into this new employee suggestion scheme, it became apparent to all of us employees that the system was a disaster. Management caught on a couple months later. Basically, the box became an excuse for employees to take out their hostilities and frustrations on coworkers. Though the suggestions were anonymous, workers usually knew who was writing what and about whom. When we didn't know, we spent way too much time trying to figure it out.
Maybe our suggestion box debacle had more to do with us as workers and individuals than the suggestion box system, but to put it mildly, the whole process was a disaster -- a short lived one.
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