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Understanding Feedback Part 1

Feedback is one of the most important functions within a business.  So many of the processes that are created within a business are designed to surface and report feedback, and yet not many people stop to think about what types of feedback they are looking for, or how best structure programs and tools to deal with feedback.  This blog post is designed to give you a framework through which you can interface with feedback at your organization and think about how to structure your programs and initiatives to maximize the feedback you receive.

First, it is important to understand the types of feedback that exist.  Here, I am not talking about feedback methods, such as "constructive feedback" or "Negative feed-forward" feedback. Those methods are very important, and you can learn about them here:

What we are talking about is the high level type of feedback.  You can see below that feedback is broadly broken into two groups: Solicited and Unsolicited.  


Solicited Feedback

While it seems obvious, this is often a misunderstood concept.  Solicited feedback is feedback that you asked for the respondent to give.  This can come in many different forms.  You may send out an NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey to customers, or an employee engagement survey at work.  These are both forms of solicited feedback.  You want to hear comments and/or suggestions regarding some activity or product that you have produced.  Other examples of solicited feedback include:

  • Comment boxes
  • QR Codes posted around a location which link to a survey
  • Asking a colleague to review a document or presentation and give you comments
  • A customer satisfaction survey
  • An invitation to review your product on Amazon or Google.

At the root of this feedback type is the concept that you are actively looking to receive the feedback.  Several questions you should pose to your organization regarding solicited feedback are:

  • What is our solicited feedback structure and strategy?
  • How often should we solicit feedback?
  • What tools do we use to ask for feedback?
  • What processes do we have for reacting to this feedback?

Solicited feedback is a process that should be running at every company.  It should be used internally and externally - meaning feedback from employees and from customers.  Many of the best ideas your company can gather will come through this channel.

Unsolicited Feedback


You can probably guess what unsolicited feedback is at this point.  This is feedback that you have NOT asked for, but get anyway.  The good news is that this type of feedback requires no effort on your part to get.  The bad news is that you don't control any of the methods or platforms by which the feedback is delivered.  Unsolicited feedback can be a real issue for your business, especially if you don't provide any other outlets for feedback to be delivered.  For example, if you are a restaurant, and you don't allow customers to give you feedback directly, providing a YELP review or Google review is the only option.  And as we can all attest, those motivated to seek out these platforms for reviews are NOT usually delivering positive feedback. 😔

Some examples of unsolicited feedback are:

  • Google Reviews (un-invited)
  • YELP Reviews 
  • Twitter comments about your brand
  • G2Crowd ratings for software

What does this all mean?

When you think of feedback in this manner, what becomes apparent is that solicited feedback gives you the best opportunity to gather the feedback that is important to your business while also having an opportunity to control the conversation around that feedback.  


On to part two.... where we discuss both structured and unstructured feedback.