How to get high quality customer feedback

Response rates matter but the quality of the feedback you collect, matters more.

When it comes to collecting feedback, training companies are very fortunate. Whereas a typical consumer business would be delighted to get feedback from even 5% of their customers, for training companies, it’s in the DNA that they should strive for 100%; and if they're running classroom training, then there is the potential to achieve this. But whilst response rates matter, what matters more is the quality of the feedback and this is something that's often overlooked. In our view, the key reasons for collecting feedback should be:

1. To gain insight about the quality of the training services being offered

If we're going to make changes to the way we do things, we need to be basing our decisions on sound evidence. In practise, this means knowing that the feedback we've got is representative. And that's more about the sheer quantity of feedback than the response rate. A decision to change something based on a hundred survey responses is always going to be more reliable than one based on ten responses so if you're training a lot of people, then response rates are relatively less important than for a small company where every response matters.

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 we can only do that if we 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.

In conclusion, 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
  • Be 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 ”. 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.