Back when I was in college, we used to have a lot of fun with the
suggestion drop box in the school cafeteria. There was nothing
particularly funny about the acrylic suggestion box itself – it was a
pretty standard issue device. It had a slot in the top for you to drop
suggestions in – small enough that you could put things in, but couldn't
easily remove them. What we liked about this suggestions box was that
cafeteria officials would put up letters that were put in it. As long as
you did not say anything that was mean or overtly offensive, it would get
up on the board for anyone who wanted to look at it. We would always try
to outdo each other with funny, clever comments, but never really had
anything particularly serious to say about the cafeteria food.
When I got into customer relations years later, I realized how important
and serious suggestion boxes could be. The great thing about a suggestion
box is that it gives people the opportunity to be honest with you without
having to take their time or yours to meet during the workday. You can't
imagine how much I appreciate this as a customer service representative.
Anytime something goes wrong in the company, I am the one that gets the
grief, even though it is rarely my mistake. If someone has something
particularly cutting to say, I would much rather get a comment in the
suggestion box than have to deal with them face-to-face. After all, when
people come up to face-to-face they look at you as a representative of
your company. If they are frustrated about something – even something
that isn't your fault – they are likely to take it out on you.
It helps that I am quick to implement the suggestion box comments that I
see. There is a brightly labeled wooden suggestion box in every publicly
accessible room in the building, and they all go to me. That way, I am
able to route the comments to the appropriate person, guaranteeing that
people get to have their say. When people see that their concerns are
being met, they are much less likely to get angry with the company. We
get to keep more business and have better relationships with our
customer. That makes everyone happy – particularly me. Although there
isn't much to a suggestion box in itself, if it is taken seriously and
used frequently, It can really make a difference.