Customer and employee suggestion boxes can be incorporated into any innovation campaign. Modern boxes should be digital, privacy-friendly, easy to use, and designed to collect useful data.
The suggestion boxes are a classic tool for collecting feedback, yet you can get more from it than you realize. Here are five ways to update how you collect ideas.
Put It Online
It’s hard to put a slip of paper in a slot when you’re out in the field, on the floor, or just keeping up with your other work. Taking your “suggestion box” online covers a few crucial points for any effective innovation strategy. It makes the box accessible to everyone in the company through a data connection. You can push your entire company’s IT infrastructure.
A digital box is easier to use across different languages, communication styles, and levels of ability. Add functions like voice-to-text or dual language translation.
Keep It Simple
Your digital suggestion boxes should be in a simple form. Avoid any complex questions upfront. Ask for an identifier if needed, make space for a suggestion, and include a submit button.
This should also include access and instructions. Your suggestion box should have an easy URL to remember and write out. Test it on multiple platforms and formats just like you would any other webpage your company relies on.
Instructions should be short and clear. Translate them into all languages your company uses regularly. The instructions should also, if possible, be at the top in an easy-to-copy block of text that can be pasted into translation engines and read out loud.
Consider a follow-up after someone clicks “submit.” For example, you might invite someone to fill out a quick survey after they make their suggestion. You could also serve another suggestion and ask for some feedback on it. Regardless, make it clear the suggestion has been submitted and that they don’t need to fill out the form again.
One of the best ways to remind everyone that the suggestion boxes are there is to give them a reason to use them.
The best incentives are the ones tied to your company values. For example, if you have many tight-knit offices, the offices with the highest number of useful suggestions could win lunch, making it a friendly competition between them.
Sometimes, data and encouragement are incentives. Offer regular updates on how many suggestions you’ve gotten and how they’ve been acted upon. Publicly thank people who’ve helped you meet your goals, made life easier for the rest of the team, or otherwise pitched in.
Don’t forget to make sure everyone has a chance to win. Promote any incentives you’re using in a way that ensures anyone with access to the box can see them.
Make It Privacy-Friendly
Privacy is key to a good suggestion box. Your team may want to speak frankly about a problem they believe company culture protects. They may be worried about their suggestion offending a coworker or supervisor, or they could just be shy.
Your suggestion box should have multiple levels of privacy and sharing to make everyone comfortable. Start with identification. It should be an anonymous system if the user wants it to be, and they should understand how and why the system is anonymous. In public-facing systems, you can offer multiple levels as well, like the innovation committee knowing who made the suggestions, but suggestions being presented as anonymous on the public side of the platform.
Another level is where the suggestion goes. If somebody is more comfortable sharing the idea with a specific department or committee, you can also include that option.
Finally, there may be situations when a suggestion box is used for an HR issue or similar concern the committee can’t address. Those should be sent along to the appropriate person, and it should be clear in the language on the site that this will happen.
Collect Useful Data
Your suggestion box can tell you a lot just by sitting there. If it regularly fills up or doesn’t, that says something about employee engagement, but there are other opportunities for data you can use, such as crowdsourcing, to bolster your innovation program.
Look at the types of ideas and what they address. Innovation programs tend to draw the most highly engaged members of your team. They have a lot to say, and think heavily about your company from their perspective. If you’re getting regular feedback about improving company processes or specific projects, that’s worth knowing. If some teams show more engagement than others, that may be something you need to explore.
This is before opportunities to gather more information directly. Once a suggestion is complete, you can provide a short survey, for example, or even just ask one question you want an answer to on a scale of one to ten.
The suggestion boxes are simple tools, but new technology and online platforms have made them powerful. To learn more, request a demo.