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Harnessing employee feedback for marketing insights and innovation

For striving businesses, it’s time to unlock the secret weapon in your marketing arsenal: your employees! Imagine a treasure trove of insights, gleaned from daily interactions between your employees and your customers. These insights, if harnessed, hold the key to developing marketing strategies that resonate with your target audience and fuel innovation. And this treasure trove is not far-fetched; it lies within your business enterprises, waiting to be channelized.

Employees are your most crucial asset. By actively soliciting and harnessing employee feedback, businesses can gain a unique perspective on their audience, their needs, and pain points, and make strategic decisions.

This article explores the importance of employee feedback and discusses different ways to gather and harness employees’ advice effectively.

Why employee feedback matters?

The importance of employee feedback for business success cannot be overstated. Here are some of the most notable benefits of gathering regular employee feedback:

·         Frontline perspective

Your business employees operate on the front lines, directly interacting with customers. This enables them to deeply understand the issues and expectations of the customers and identify ways to address them. Such insights can prove to be immensely valuable for your business.

·         Deep company knowledge

Your employees possess in-depth knowledge of your business, its products, services, and internal processes. They can provide a holistic view for implementing premeditated marketing strategies that have the maximum positive impact and enhance your lead-scoring efforts.

·         Diverse perspectives

Your employees come from diverse backgrounds. They have varied qualifications and skill sets. Consequently, they can offer a multitude of perspectives, fueling creativity and unveiling hidden opportunities.

Establishing an employee feedback loop

An employee feedback loop is one of the leading workplace trends that involves collecting, analyzing, and acting upon the feedback obtained from employees. It involves building a transparent and open communication channel that empowers employees to freely share their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions, which can be used for better understanding the customers and deriving helpful marketing insights. 

Essentially, the feedback loop consists of several stages: gathering feedback, assessing the data, communicating the findings, and taking action.

Remember, it is crucial to always close the feedback loop by giving employees updates on how their feedback has been implemented in the organization.

Establishing step-by-step guides on robust employee feedback loop can help your organization to:

·         Create detailed customer personas 

·         Identify what is working and what is not

·         Accelerate innovation by giving a voice to new ideas

·         Encourage a culture of continuous improvement

·         Ensure employee retention by showing your workforce how much you care about their opinions

Let’s take a look at a real-world example here:

Starbucks, the coffee giant, is well-known for harnessing employee feedback to nurture innovation at scale. The company regularly encourages its employees to share their inputs, ideas, and apprehensions in an ongoing process to continually improve the company. 

Starbucks has also implemented its innovation hub, known as the Tryer Center, to convert employee ideas into action. In 2019, the hub generated over 130 projects, out of which, 40 ideas ended up being sold in stores. In fact, their Cloud Macchiato was tested at the Tryer Center for the first time and ended up becoming Starbucks’s second most viral drink of all time.

Key strategies for building a culture of continuous employee feedback

For many organizations, actively gathering valuable employee feedback remains an area for improvement. Transforming into a feedback-driven culture requires commitment and consistent effort, starting with leadership. Here are some key strategies to cultivate a thriving feedback ecosystem that fosters innovation:

Encourage open communication

This is the first step to leveraging the power of employee feedback. As a leader, it is crucial to build a feedback-safe environment where every thought, idea, and opinion is respected.

Encourage employees to constantly share their ideas without the fear of judgment or retribution. Make sure they feel safe and understand that their feedback will not bring any negative repercussions. This starts with establishing honest and truthful relationships within the organization.

Additionally, share your feedback openly, creating a relatable two-way stream of communication.

Set clear expectations around feedback

Establishing clear expectations for feedback is crucial to building a thriving feedback-driven culture. Imagine a symphony orchestra where each musician plays their tune, ignoring the conductor’s direction. The result would be chaos and disharmony. Similarly, without clear guidelines, feedback can become inconsistent and ineffective, hindering progress.

To ensure a harmonious feedback symphony, find answers to the following:  

o   Who gives feedback?

o   Who receives feedback?

o   How often does it occur?

o   How do we do it?

o   What is the goal of feedback?

By establishing these clear expectations, you can create a standardized feedback framework that fosters consistent improvement, innovation, and success across all levels of the organization.

Make it routine

When feedback happens routinely, it transcends being a simple activity and evolves into a deeply ingrained practice. Imagine the practice when you track website visitors or constantly refine your website design – these marketing activities become so seamlessly integrated into your daily operations that you barely even think about them.

Similarly, incorporating feedback into the very fabric of your organization can make it as natural and essential as any other core function.

Let’s take Hudl, the renowned sports technology company, as a prime example. Hudl’s commitment to a feedback-driven culture is evident in its very DNA, with the hashtag #RealTalk permeating everyday conversations amongst employees.

Use diverse feedback channels

Different employees prefer to give feedback in different ways. By offering a variety of feedback channels, you give your employees the liberty to provide their valuable ideas and opinions in a way they are most comfortable with.

For instance, some employees may find it easier to provide 1-on-1 feedback whereas others may appreciate an anonymous one. Alternatively, you can decide between group and individual feedback to find out what works best for your organization.

Many businesses also utilize social media platforms as a channel to collect valuable employee feedback. For instance, they can create private groups or channels on platforms like Facebook or Slack and encourage employees to share their thoughts and concerns. Additionally, companies can use built-in polling features on platforms like Twitter or Instagram Stories to gather quick feedback on specific topics.

Empower your employees with feedback tools

Finally, make sure to empower your employees with robust feedback software. Just like employee communications software, feedback tools can also drastically streamline operations. They are designed to help organizations collect and act on feedback from their employees.

Feedback tools offer a range of features, such as creating surveys, assessing survey data, formulating strategies based on gathered insights, and more. Integrate the regular use of these tools just like the others such as project management software

Transforming employee feedback into actionable insights

Employee feedback is only valuable if it is rightly converted into insights and acted upon. Let’s look at three steps in which you can harness employee feedback for business growth.

Analyze

Begin with analyzing your employee feedback thoroughly. Categorize the obtained data and draw connections between different points to identify recurring themes or critical issues. Use these insights to gather an in-depth understanding of your organization’s dynamics – including all strengths and lurking flaws.

Strategize

Next, strategize by developing an action plan based on the analysis. Pinpoint areas that require immediate attention and those that need long-term intervention. Prioritize your actions based on the plan’s urgency, impact, and viability.

Implement

At this point, you must roll out all the planned changes in a clear and structured manner. Ensure your team understands why these changes are taking place and how they align with the gathered feedback.

Remember, communication is key during this stage. There might be some initial resistance to change but maintaining a transparent dialog will help to ensure a smooth transition.

Conclusion

Having a culture of effective and continuous employee feedback is imperative. It provides a deeper understanding of your organization and helps to unlock critical marketing insights to boost success.

But remember, feedback is a continuous process. It is not a one-and-done thing. You have to constantly encourage open communication, listen to your employees, and analyze their inputs to develop and implement a robust growth plan for your business. 

_____________________________________________________________________

Author bio:
Yash Chawlani is your go-to digital marketing specialist and founder of Merlin Marketing, a performance-driven marketing agency. With over 7 years of experience, Yash has worked with some big names like Elementor, G2, and Snov, just to name a few, to boost their online presence. When he’s not diving into the latest marketing trends, you’ll either find him at the gym or on the football field.

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