Scott R. Coplan

Is Anyone Listening?

The Problem

If you are like me, you receive frequent emails asking for feedback about a recent product or customer experience. I usually take the time to respond with constructive information about my experience. I hope the organization uses my feedback as a basis for improvement. I doubt it. I never hear back from them.

In the absence of facts, I’m free to speculate. So, when an organization fails to give me feedback about what they did with my input, I assume they don’t value it, and they don’t care about improving their product or service. It’s just another marketing ploy to appear as if they care. Even if an organization collects feedback with the best of intentions, they need to take the next step by reporting what they did with that information. Otherwise, it’s just another terrible idea.
An even worse idea is to ask your employees for feedback and then not respond. Imagine how they feel when providing constructive improvement information and they are met with silence. What does this communicate? That no one cares.
I think there’s a valuable lesson here. Let me explain.

The Solution

Feedback is not a single event. It involves multiples steps, including reporting back to the respondent. As a change agent, I’ve used these steps hundreds of times. Below is an example I used before implementing an electronic health record system that caused considerable change.

Feedback Steps


  1. Prepare feedback survey

Design a survey and assemble a sample of representative stakeholders, asking several questions about their preparedness and resistance to the change

  1. Administer feedback survey (or receive unsolicited input)

Gather results

  1. Analyze feedback to discover what it means

Determine targets do not trust leadership and understand the project objectives

  1. Define how to make good use of the positive and take corrective action about the cause of negative feedback

Ask leaders to reinforce their role by clarifying project objectives with stakeholders

  1. Implement improvements

Conduct group meetings between leadership and stakeholders

  1. Explain to the feedback respondents, what you did in light of their input

Thank each respondent, explaining how their feedback improved stakeholder understanding of project objectives during meetings with their leaders 

Whether positive or negative, feedback provides information on what and how to improve. When you don’t hear back about your input, that’s negative feedback indicating no one’s interested in improvement or at least not interested in what you have to say. Instead, let people know you’re listening to their feedback, explaining you actively made changes (or will implement changes) as a result of their input.
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