Quality or quantity? Which would you rather have in your course feedback?
It’s not unusual for training companies to expect a 100% response rate for learner feedback. This can sometimes be a challenge but one which Coursecheck can really help to address. However, while response rates matter, we would argue that they can easily become a misleading measure; the quality of those responses is actually what we should be focussing on. Of course, Coursecheck can help with that too.
In case you still value quantity over quality, here are some of the key reasons for collecting feedback, in our view:
1. To gain insight into the quality of the training services being offered
You want your training to have the maximum impact it can, so your customers and delegates feel they have really learnt something and got great value for money and for their time. So, if you're going to make changes to the way you do things, you need to be basing our decisions on sound evidence. In practice, this means knowing that the feedback you've received is meaningful and gives specific details. For example, just one learner pointing out that the slides used were hard to read because they are colour-blind could be the useful trigger to review all course materials to ensure they are completely accessible for all. We recognise that, in some cases, the decision to make a change may need to be based on weight of numbers (all your delegates complaining about your external caterer rather than just one fussy eater!) but we would suggest that the quality is often in the detail of individual feedback.
2. To know whether there are any individuals who should be followed up on a one-one basis.
When it comes to responding to feedback, then of course you can only do that if you have something to respond to. And that comes down to encouraging people to be honest and to tell you about even the small things that could be improved. The good news is that if someone has something very positive or negative to say, they're naturally more inclined to want to leave feedback so it's those in the middle that need the most encouragement.
3. For training companies, customer feedback can be a valuable marketing asset
If you're using feedback for marketing purposes, then the overall quantity that matters, but only up to a point. That's because although there's a big difference between having ten reviews and a hundred there's only a relatively small additional benefit between having a hundred and a thousand. Prospective customers simply need to believe that the reviews they're reading are representative and as long as there are a reasonable number of them, and some are recent, then the marketing objective is achieved.
Clearly it's worth doing everything you can to maximise both the quantity and quality of feedback you collect. The way to achieve this, depends to some extent on the type of training you offer. If you're running classroom training, then we strongly recommend collecting feedback before the Learners leave the room. As well as guaranteeing a high response rate, it's also saves you the trouble of sending them a survey link. Either way, your instructors are key to successful feedback collection and we recommend that they:
- Mention at the start of the course, that you're going to be asking for feedback
- Make it a group activity
- Are enthusiastic and appreciative
- Explain the benefits and how the information they provide, will be used
- Reassure them about any privacy concerns they might have
- Reassure them that the whole process will only take a few minutes
If you're sending out post-event feedback request emails, then it's even more important that the trainer makes the case for Learners not to ignore the email that's coming their way.
Feedback request emails
When sending out post-course requests for feedback, we recommend that:
- The email is sent out within 24 hours of the completion of the course. Any longer than that, will result in a significantly lower response rate. Better still, send it out in advance so that it's aleady in their inbox by the end of the course.
- You use a subject line that is likely to get the learner to open the email. e.g. "Your recent training with xx”. It doesn’t need to mention the word “feedback" which may put them off!
- In the body of your email, reiterate what your trainers have said in the classroom: explain why you are asking for their feedback, tell them how much you value it, reassure them that the information they provide will not be misused, and emphasise that it’s a short survey form that will only take them a few minutes to complete.
To answer our opening question, yes, of course the quantity of responses matters but, in our view, the focus really should be on the quality of those responses.