Monday, July 20, 2009
Suggestion Box at GM
The Wall Street Journal has a story today about how Fritz Henderson, GM's CEO, has implemented an online suggestion box so that he can hear feedback directly from customers. I certainly applaud Henderson's efforts to listen directly to his customers, without all the usual filters that synthesize and summarize data for a CEO. However, leaders must be careful when they engage in such efforts. First, they have to expose their entire management team to such feedback, so that everyone is hearing the same messages from customers. Second, they must be careful not to act based on anecdotal evidence that may emerge from the suggestion box. Many managers grab on to a particularly compelling story or example, and they run with it. Perhaps, though, that bit of feedback may not represent the experience of the vast majority of GM customers. Finally, the company must be prepared to act on this feedback. Nothing angers customers more than a suggestion box that becomes a black hole from which feedback never returns. Can GM handle the volume that my come their way? Are they prepared to hear what they may not want to hear?