Google areas of customer service and feedback. Now do it again adding “children”. Interesting? From the former you get lots of results regarding companies and customer service (none of which refer to children) from the latter you get results about companies that serve children but customer services aimed at adults. Keep at it and you will find lots of information about how to consult with children and young people but none of it in the area of customer services. It will be in the arena of feedback on public services. (e.g. schools, council services etc.)
So why does this demographic get overlooked when gaining feedback on products and services in the private sector? Various reasons, but mainly because people don’t know how to gain feedback, they use the same methods as they would with adults or they don’t understand the significance of the potential feedback.
Still don’t see the importance?
1) Parents and carers, generally speaking, listen to their children on many things! If they need to buy something from sausages to an Ipod their child is going to have input on that decision whether you realise it or not.
2) Children and young people are consulted and participate in decision making in many areas of their school and wider life even if this is just limited to school councils. They now expect to be listened to, ignore them at your peril, they will vote with their feet
3) As well as current consumers albeit through their parents/carers children are the consumers of the future. Good experiences now will develop their loyalty
4) Young people are Internet and Social Media savvy. Whatever your product/service they’ll be writing about it, even if you don’t understand the language they use! On Facebook and Twitter a couple of lines from one young person and that message could reach just as many as if an adult sends it. If your target audience are young people this is far more significant!
5) Children and young people are unlikely to write to your Customer Service department or fill in feedback forms!
So how do you consult with children and young people? Creatively! You can’t expect to go into a school and just ask children either, even if you offer a cash incentive, there’s far more to be considered!
The Complaining Cow has led work on consultation and participation for children and young people for many years. This has included commissioning and jointly managing, the largest play consultation in the UK with 12,000 5 – 13 yr olds taking part in innovative drama and art based workshops as the key method of enabling participation. I work with qualified, skilled practitioners experienced in gaining the views of children and young people using art, drama and technology to gain the most useful feedback possible.
Discuss with the Complaining Cow techniques for gaining useful feedback and be armed with far more knowledge than your competitors!