When you give feedback about someone, it’s natural to worry about them retaliating in one way or another if you critique them. Employees worry about the effects of giving negative feedback about their bosses because they don’t want to risk losing their source of income. In a similar way, students hesitate to share negative comments about professors in fear that a professor might identify the students behind these comments and fail them. This fear of retaliation is even more present in vulnerable communities such as homeless shelters, refugee shelters and elderly homes. When community members depend on an organization to provide services that they can’t afford to pay for elsewhere, the fear of retaliation multiplies tenfold. It’s not unusual for someone who is homeless to worry that they’ll find themselves out on the streets simply because they criticized the facility that has taken them in.
The problem with current feedback systems
While there are several survey platforms that allow people to offer feedback on services rendered, very few offer genuine anonymity to the survey respondents. What’s more, even fewer offer respondents the opportunity to leave anonymous feedback on a device that doesn’t belong to them. This combination of factors makes it challenging, and even unappealing, for vulnerable populations to give their feedback. After all, why risk losing services from an organization that isn’t legally required to provide these services?
Most organizations that provide services to vulnerable people wouldn’t dream of punishing people who critique their services. Nevertheless, the few cases of people who have received backlash for negative feedback are enough to make anyone hesitate.
Why objective feedback matters
Organizations like homeless shelters have a massively positive impact on the people they serve. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to guess how their community feels about their services and identify what matters most to the community members with 100% accuracy. For this reason, these organizations usually prioritize taking a survey every once in a while. These surveys are usually conducted manually, where a volunteer or staff members goes around with a sheet of paper, asks people questions and notes their answers down. Alternatively, this person could also distribute the surveys, leave the community members to answer their own surveys and then collect them later on.
The problem with this method of collecting feedback is that respondents are usually unlikely to share their true feelings when the person conducting the survey is present. This is because the respondent worries that the person distributing the survey will know what answers they’ve given. In case they have something negative to say or a critique to share, this fear of their answers being identified also comes with a fear of being punished in some way or another.
When you’re running an organization that serves a vulnerable population, it’s important to serve these people to the best of your ability. In order to do that, you need to understand how they feel about the services you currently offer and what matters to them. The only way you can be sure that you’ll get accurate insight into this is by creating a safe space where the members of this community feel comfortable sharing how they truly feel. For this reason, different organizations have made it a mission to create anonymous feedback systems. One such organization is Pulse For Good, a collection of 6 tech gurus who made it their goal to build a software system that can make the world a better place. Their network of kiosks allows people to give anonymous feedback on services they receive at places such as homeless shelters, women’s shelters, refugee shelters and nursing homes.
How Pulse For Good works
The Pulse For Good kiosks are designed to eliminate the need for someone to walk from community member to community member collecting feedback. Rather, each kiosk is simply mounted on the wall at a specific organization and community members are encouraged to leave feedback at their convenience. With the knowledge that their feedback will be kept anonymous, community members feel more free to share their true feelings as well as suggestions for improvement. On the other hand, that person who would’ve spent hours sitting with community members to help them fill surveys can spend that time on a more meaningful task.
The Pulse For Good kiosks are built to be intuitive enough for people to use without assistance from anyone, so filling surveys is simple and fast
How organizations are using feedback from Pulse For Good
Vulnerable populations often have valuable insights into the services they receive, but without a proper feedback system, organizations can lose out on this feedback. By studying the survey responses that they get from Pulse For Good kiosks, organizations are able to identify how they can better serve their communities. What’s more, these survey responses can be very helpful at the level of decision making, especially when it comes to decisions about the allocation of resources.
Many of these organizations have been able to use these responses at meetings with the board of directors or government officials where they’ve successfully demonstrated the need for more funding. When you go to a member of the board or a government official with solid proof of what services matter to your community, it’s easier to present a solid argument for more resources.
How Pulse For Good is impacting vulnerable populations
It’s true that the Pulse For Good kiosks doesn’t have the same human touch as someone walking to you and asking you to fill out a survey. Even so, community members who use this system have reported feeling cared for and involved in improving the organizations that serve them.
As one community member shared
“I was reading through the questions and I realized, hey, I can have some input here. Maybe they’ll do something about what I have to say. And they have. It’s nice to have an input and to know that the staff and directors will get a chance to hear my input and my concerns about what goes on around here. It’s kind of nice to be heard.”
Pulse For Good goes a long way towards helping members of vulnerable populations to feel seen and heard. It gives them a safe space where they can share their thoughts and contribute towards the improvement of services that impact them. This intuitive feedback system also helps organizations to be able to share information about the impact they’re having on the communities they serve with major stakeholders. This information gives stakeholders the confidence that the organization has what it takes to serve the community. The feedback from the community also helps stakeholders to identify areas where they can help the organization to do better for the people they serve.
While Pulse For Good is built on a network of machines, it humanizes the organizations that use it by giving them a snapshot into the lives of their community members. As someone who serves a vulnerable population every day, it’s easy to get desensitized to their struggles, but the data collected by Pulse For Good really highlights these challenges. This feedback system also reminds the staff and volunteers of what really matters to vulnerable populations at the end of the day.
Want to know more about Pulse For Good? You can visit their website and sign up for a kiosk here.