The Suggestion Box Reborn Online: How to Gain Feedback from Customers to Improve Your Business


Remember the old “idea box?”In some companies, it was a way to cull information about employee expectations. In other companies, it was a way to make positive changes from within. Well, there’s been a resurgence in that old idea – not in physical form, but in virtual form. Here’s how to make use of it in your own company.


What Is It?


A suggestion box is a simple device for collecting opinions and suggestions for improving the company. Sometimes, the suggestions can be as simple as assigning someone to clean up the employee break room. Other times, suggestions are more intensive – like marketing suggestions that may improve the company’s gross sales.


The online version of this is basically just an email submission form where users can offer suggestions in a text box and then submit them to someone at the company. Submissions may be anonymous or not, depending on how you want to set up the program.


Online marketing companies, like Yodle, Inc., often suggest these kinds of programs when you’re at a loss for how to improve already good sales numbers.


How To Use It


An online suggestion box is only useful if you intent to act on the suggestions your receive. You should have a defined company policy for handling the information and acting on the suggestions you do get. Whether it be from employees or vendors, you need a consistent and streamlined approach for processing them.


Hire, or appoint, someone to administer the program. It can be either a full-time or part-time position, depending on how much money and time you want to devote to it. When designing the online suggestion box, it’s also a good idea to acknowledge your appreciation for the feedback. Most companies simply display a “thank you”message on the screen, but you can actually go a step further.


Let people know that you will send them a gift certificate, or something else of value, when they submit their suggestion. Have a way to track users so that you don’t get double-entries. Or, enter every user into a drawing for a “grand prize.”


Companies That Use It Successfully


Many companies already make use of these suggestion boxes. Companies like Starbucks, for example, use suggestion boxes to get ideas from customers and employees. The company then sorts through these suggestions and uses them as the basis for making internal managerial decisions.


Dell, the famous computer company, uses Ideastorm to gather feedback from customers. best Buy uses IdeaX to allow customers to vote on specific company policies and initiatives. Customers can also share and discuss ideas.


What’s amazing about these suggestion box initiatives is that it can humanize even the largest of companies and make them seem more “real.”Too often, large corporations are stuck with the stuffy corporate image – an image that suggests that they don’t care about what their customers think.


But, even small companies are sometimes saddled with this stigma. The suggestion box gives you a line of communication that’s often difficult or impossible to replicate.


Nathan Salmons loves modern strategies for online marketing. From social media to interactive websites, he enjoys blogging about the trends and effective ideas for improving marketing plans for today’s businesses.

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