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Understanding Feedback Part 2 - NPS vs. Video

Hopefully you have read part one of our post regarding feedback.  If not, you may want to start there and come back here.

Now that we understand solicited vs. unsolicited feedback, it is important to think about the subtypes of feedback we may receive.  And to know the tradeoffs of both types.  From a very high level, the subtypes of feedback are structured feedback and unstructured feedback.


These two subtypes appear for both solicited and unsolicited feedback.  In many cases they take the same forms for both, so we will talk about them generally rather than for both solicited and unsolicited.

Structured Feedback

Structured feedback describes feedback that is bounded in its scope.  A great example of structured feedback is an NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey.  NPS Surveys are popular because they are simple to administer, complete by the respondent, and analyze by the company.  Below is an example of a structured NPS Survey from Taxa Outdoors that was sent to our VP of Product - Zane.  As you can see, the survey is asking a very simple question - how likely is the respondent to recommend the brand to a friend or colleague.  The answer choices are 0-10.  This 0-10 range is the upper and lower bound of the response.  Meaning, there is no such thing as an 11 or "depends on the friend" option.  You are requiring the respondent to choose from this bounded range.  This is what makes the feedback structured.  It is simple to administer (many platforms provide this option), quick to take (respondent only needs to select 1 thing), and easy to analyze.  A very simple analysis could show you the average, max, min, standard deviation and other statistical measures of the responses.  In this case, there is also the NPS score calculation : NPS = %Promoter(9,10)-%Detractor(0-6).  Many companies use this score as a benchmark of their performance and growth prospects.  Although there are many studies showing it is pseudo science

 A multiple choice answer is another example of structured feedback.  So is a series of emoticons πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜πŸ˜– on a display as you leave a restroom (yes we've all seen them).  

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 11.24.13 AM


Again, the benefits of structured feedback are that it is easy to complete and more importantly - easy to analyze.  


Unstructured Feedback

Unstructured feedback describes feedback that has no pre-defined selection criteria and is not bound by any upper or lower limits (save for how big the text input box is πŸ˜‰).  A very simple example of unstructured feedback is the open text field in a survey where you ask the respondent if there is "anything else" they would like to add.  This feedback can range from comments about your product, service, or pricing to experiences with staff and/or partners.  Unstructured feedback is really where the VALUE of your feedback sits.  Imagine asking your kids "How was your day?" and then putting up your hand and telling them to please only answer with an emoticon.  Parent of the year!  No, you wouldn't do that (I hope) - but that is what structured feedback does.  It strips all the nuance, the story, and the advice out of your respondent's experience.  It also means that the value of the response to your organization is significantly less than if it was unstructured and you allowed them to just TELL you what they think.  

However, traditionally, unstructured feedback has been VERY difficult to analyze.  If I get 1,000 responses to an open text box question (or video or audio responses) how do I deal with that?  It would mean reading all 1,000 responses and synthesizing the results into something useful.  This is why people have gravitated to structured feedback over the last 20 years.  Luckily the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and platforms like (and others) have made it possible to treat unstructured feedback like structured feedback.  So that you get the benefit of the unstructured feedback with the ease of use of structured feedback.

There is a definite tradeoff between the VALUE of the feedback and the EFFORT required to gather it.  If you could meet with every employee or customer every month and sit with them for an hour, that would be ideal.  But it doesn't scale - and you have other work to do!  Those client meetings are unstructured feedback.  You may have questions you want to ask, but your customer or employee can give you any response they want.

I put together a quick image of the tradeoff matrix for feedback subtypes.  Structured feedback vs unstructured feedback do still contain different levels of effort, but they are much closer than they have ever been.  The question is what VALUE do you want to get from your feedback.  You can see from the matrix below that we believe Open Text Box response types actually present a higher level of effort than video and/or audio feedback.  In this case we are referencing asynchronous video and audio, not synchronous meetings.  Those are referenced in the top right.  While they have the highest value, they also have the highest level of effort.  

Structured feedback like NPS or 5 Star ratings sit in the bottom left.  They offer very little information value.  For example if I give you a 2 on the NPS, the question is "why?".  That will require more questions - either Open Text Box or Virtual Customer Meeting to actually answer.  Or you could just guess - which is what most companies do.




I hope that sharing this feedback framework helps you to think about what choices make sense for your company when it comes to gathering and processing feedback from customers and employees.