Acknowledging Feedback: What are Your Moving Bus Stops?
This year a particularly amusing phenomenon is occurring in China—the case of the moving bus stop. The latest victim to this menace, Xiaozuo, China—a village of 3,000—made the headlines in today’s Wall Street Journal in an article by Te-Ping Chen, In China, the Bus Stops Sometimes Take a Walk.
Villagers, not happy with the current bus stops, have begun digging up the signage and digging new holes (complete with pouring cement) in order to favor their location. Be it an aging community who feels the current stop is too far to walk or an advantageous business owner trying to shift customers in his favor, “walking” bus stops are causing havoc in transportation routes.
Transportation authorities are directing operators to continue to use the old locations, and have replaced signage in many instances. This works for village residents, who know where the original stops are. But for those who visit the area, you’re likely to end up flagging down a passing bus to no avail, because you’re at the wrong stop.
This is clearly a communication breakdown.
An obvious, and quick, solution would be to put stickers over the “moved” bus stops to communicate that buses will not stop there, and point patrons to the original location.
This is just a bandage on the wound.
Unfortunately this happens in businesses all the time.
Underneath the phenomenon of the walking bus signs is a systemic problem to be addressed—listening to feedback. Is there legitimate reasoning behind these moving bus stops? Should the transit authorities be paying attention? Would simply acknowledging the move help the situation? Or is this just the case of multiple pranksters trying to pull one over?
There’s always some truth behind every joke.
In some areas, the government put out advertisements in publications to encourage people to stop moving the bus stops, expecting the problem to slow—but it hasn’t.
Organizations are guilty of this, and often at the cost of profitability. When something goes wrong, we often seek the nearest bandage to stop the hemorrhaging. But what we fail to do is find out how the bleeding began in the first place. We fail to get feedback. And in the cases when we do receive feedback, we often fail to listen.
Asking for feedback means nothing to your employees or your consumers if you aren’t recognizing, or in some cases implementing, shared thoughts. In the same way having an “open door policy” is a waste of time, and a statement of hypocrisy, if you aren’t going to encourage challenges to the status quo and contrary opinions without repercussion.
I challenge you to recognize the feedback from your employees and customers. And not just with a thank-you. Respond, legitimately, to the feedback. If you don’t agree, let them know that you understand their desire to move the bus stop, but then show them how it is not feasible and explain why. This communication lets people know that they, and their opinions are valued. When you take time to have a conversation, they feel respected. And even if you don’t change the direction of your bus to accommodate their requests, you’ll have riders who better understand the system.
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