For many years, I’ve shared the concept I call the One Thing Question. The idea is to ask a customer: “What’s one thing you can think of that would make doing business with us better?”
I love this question because it’s all about how a company can improve in virtually any area. Some customers might suggest product improvements. Some might suggest a way to improve the system. Some might share an idea of how to deliver better customer service.
Every time a customer gives a thoughtful answer to this question, they are giving you a gift. And be sure to pay extra close attention to the customers who rate you highest. These people already think you are great, so their ideas are ways to improve on greatness.
With that in mind, I want you to consider using this question internally, asking your employees to answer a version of the question that goes like this, “Thinking back over the last year, what’s one thing you can think of that would make working here better?”
This is an insightful question that can give you the one idea you need to keep an employee from leaving, create a more fulfilling employment opportunity, create a more engaged workforce, and more.
This is not an employee suggestion box type of program. It is very specific, and shouldn’t be asked on a frequent basis. This is the type of question that demands the center of attention. Asking it just one time a year is good timing. It’s not too often and can give you time to work on some of the better and more usable suggestions.
By the way, that last sentence is important. Let me emphasize that you must work and use some of the better suggestions. It must be obvious to your employees that you are not only listening to their ideas but acting on them as well. It will be demoralizing to ask people to take the time to submit a thoughtful idea, only to find out that all of them fall on deaf ears.
Not all ideas will be good or usable. Be upfront about that. Let people know that while all ideas are being considered, your goal is to find just a few that will have the greatest impact.
I’ve written and spoken on the idea that before you can be the best place to buy from, you have to be the best place to work at. Customers can tell when they are doing business with amazing companies. What is happening on the inside of the organization is felt on the outside by the customer. So, ask your employees for a gift, which is their best idea on how you can create a better place to work.