How to Encourage Feedback from Certification Recipients
Sick of operating in the dark? Use recipient feedback to improve your course.
Most successful certification programs benefit from continual improvement. Unfortunately, without good learner feedback, it’s difficult for many online educators to know if their course adjustments are helping or not.
The good news is that you don’t have to work blind. Many learners will readily leave user feedback, with the right prompts. It’s just a matter of delivering the right ask and the opportune moment.
So, if you’re ready to set the tinkering aside, here are a few tips to get the feedback you need from your certificate recipients so that you can focus your efforts on fixing only the parts that are broken.
1. Ask them explicitly, and let them know it’s important.
Many users don’t leave feedback because they don’t realize it’s important. They see it as a last resort, something they can turn to if they’re unhappy and need to leave a complaint. Most assume that, even if they do leave feedback, there’s no one there to listen.
Of course, most businesses know how important feedback is, and will do almost anything to get more of it. This is true of a certification course as anything else. You need your learners to tell you what they think so that you can do better. Without learner feedback, you could be losing half your audience and have no idea why.
It may seem obvious, but if you want feedback, your best course of action is to ask for it. Your satisfied learners might be more than happy to leave a quick review. And if they have positive things to say, you may even get some great new testimonials for your home page.
2. Make it easy.
Have you ever tried to leave a review only to be dissuaded by an incredibly complex and frustrating system? For many of us, a complicated feedback process will have burnt through any good will we might have felt long before we push the final “submit” button on the feedback form.
Given how quickly our enthusiasm dampens, it’s no wonder that the majority of those who do persist in leaving feedback are the angry ones. And if your system is really bad, chances are you’ve only given them one more thing to complain about.
Complicated feedback forms aren’t just a deterrent—they signal a lack of trust. They make your users feel like their thoughts aren’t worthwhile, and that you may even be trying to silence them with an overly complex system.
So, take a look at the feedback mechanisms you have in place, and remove all possible barriers. Keep the forms simple, but leave room for your users to express themselves authentically. After all, their feedback is doing you a favor.
3. Be timely.
The best time to ask your learners for feedback is directly after they finish your course—or shortly after they complete whatever action it is you’d like to receive feedback about. This will allow your learner to deliver feedback when the course is fresh in their minds. Furthermore, the positive emotions they feel about completing the program and receiving certification will be hopefully predispose them toward a good review.
When your learners complete the course, include your feedback request in the congratulatory email. If you have a “congrats, you finished!” landing page, put a “tell us what you think” link there as well.
4. Switch up the request.
You don’t have to wait till your certification program is over to ask your learners for feedback. In fact, you can incorporate simple feedback requests throughout your course, and vary their complexity based on what you’re asking about.
For instance, at the end of each module or quiz, you could ask learners to rate their satisfaction with the lesson using a simple starring system. After they rate the lesson, you could include a short comment box in case they want to add something to their review.
The key here is to keep these elements separate. Allow them to a quick rating and move on, and don’t make them feel like they have to fill out the feedback form and submit both together.
You can simply the feedback even more by making it a simple yes/no answer. Asking “was this helpful?” with a “like” button can give you a very basic measure of learner satisfaction, and it may be all you need for some parts of your course.
5. Don’t forget to say thank you.
Your learners are doing you a favor when they leave feedback. Hopefully you established this when you asked them for it in the first place. So it only makes sense that, if they go out of their way to leave you some, you also thank them for their trouble. Gratitude is also a way to let them know that you’re listening, and it can encourage your learners to keep leaving feedback in the future.
The “thank you” doesn’t have to be complicated. If you emailed to ask them for feedback, send them a thank you email once they finish. If you asked for feedback on a lesson, put up a quick landing page after they submit the feedback form. Or, if you have a “yes/no” button, it can even be as simple as a check mark to indicate that their answer was successfully transmitted.
Balance your feedback.
After working so hard to encourage feedback from your learners, it can be tempting to try to implement every suggestion. However, just because one user complained about something doesn’t mean every user agrees.
Learner feedback is an area where quantity often outweighs quality. Yes, it’s great to receive a glowing testimonial that you can add to your marketing emails. And if someone happens to write a long, detailed review of every aspect of your certification program, they may have some very keen insights to share. But your learners will disagree with each other about how to make your course better, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to gather as much feedback as you can, and take everything in as a whole.
After all, one learner’s bug might be another learner’s feature.
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