Improving Services - Feedback
We all likely think that we are constantly improving the quality and experience of our services to parents and children, but when was the last time you actually reviewed customer satisfaction or assessed whether your services have actually improved in recent months / years?
Whether you are full with waiting lists and doing very well financially, or struggling to fill places there are always improvements to be made, it’s a case of realizing sometimes that its necessary to take things to a new level or developing a simple continuous improvement philosophy and to identify weaknesses and make small improvements with regularity.
Some areas that need improvement will already be very obvious to you and they will likely be top of your list to get started. Beyond these the key is to look for areas that need improvement whether its parental communications, registration processes, staff attitudes or development, your image and branding, the use of social media, updating your websites, how you handle difficult situations, opening times or pricing policies…the list is endless. Within each area you analyze you might be surprised to find that there are several small steps you can take to make improvements not everything has to be a big change or reaction!
The range of improvements means there are several important areas that will help you be the best you can be when it comes to running a successful and valued childcare organization and the first focus area is…Getting customers to help!
Getting customer feedback is an essential part of business as it provides an opportunity to check against the benchmarks that customers have…. keep meeting their needs and expectations and they usually remain as customers! Whereas ignoring their opinions and comments can lead to dissatisfaction resulting in negative behavior or lost loyalty and custom.
It’s possible and common to take a passive view on customer feedback essentially assuming everything is ok if customers haven’t commented otherwise. This assumption is, of course, flawed and would not be helpful approach to take if you genuinely want to give parents and children in your care the very best experience you can. So the only other option is to seek out customer feedback, be proactive!
This can be an uneasy concept because non of us want to hear comments that are anything but positive in our favour, but we actually need to hear them if our aim is truly to satisfy customers and be excellent in our field.
Here are some ways you can gather feedback directly from your customers. Don’t forget that it is equally important that you gather information from future customers too to make sure you pick up on any trends or changes that are happening in parental thinking or reactions to changing policies.
· Social media – Use social media to test attitudes, give direct feedback about your organization, run polls or competitions to gather opinions on situations.
· Parental questionnaires – Gather views on key areas of your services or opinions on any future changes you may be making to test out the market view.
· Run local focus groups – Set up a local focus group consisting of parents new to childcare, or those planning a family, as a feedback opportunity to gain insights to current thinking, needs and wants. You have a lot to offer in terms of knowledge to give them about the sector, free offers and how childcare works generally. You could also make it a social event that is also a great marketing opportunity for signing up new parents…a win, win and coffee too!
· Chatting in the setting – Whilst there isn’t much time when parents are picking up or dropping off you could ask a few simple questions about certain problems or situations you are encountering. It’s a good way to test out different opinions and reactions to situations.
Whatever method you choose, gathering customer feedback will be well worth the effort in the long run and if you would like to start the process of improvement beginning with customer driven business improvements please do not hesitate to contact us for more details.
…Look out for our second article on “Improving Services #2 in the next edition of “Best Start”…