Gaining Input from Service Users: A New Opportunity

One of the challenges confronted by service providers is, “How do I get meaningful feedback from service users?”

Let’s assume first that you are a service provider that actually cares about what your service users think. You may have tried exit surveys or exit interviews. You may have tried sending follow up surveys to people once they moved into housing. If you are a shelter or drop-in center you may have tried consumer meetings and focus groups.

If you get feedback from consumers, chances are you know best from the two extremes: those who love your services/programs/staff and those that despise or have a beef with your services/programs/staff. What you don’t have a good mechanism for is getting feedback from Jane or John Doe person experiencing homelessness and a regular basis.

Enter Pulse for Good which is revolutionizing how service providers and government/funders get feedback on a regular basis from individuals and families that use homeless services. By installing customized kiosks, it is possible to gather the feedback necessary for service providers to tweak their programs and make changes big and small to have an impact on services. The use of the platform to date shows that not only will service users take the time to provide feedback, but that the feedback is meaningful and the analysis and improvements that can be made are powerful.

Pulse for Good was started by a half dozen dudes who work in the private sector and were accustomed to designing software solutions for the justice system, the federal government and the military. They wanted to do something good and worthwhile with their skills for the homelessness services industry. So, they created Pulse for Good.

Pulse for Good has installed kiosks and been completing the analysis of consumer feedback in six homeless service organizations since they began collecting feedback in April. Service providers and funders have been impressed. On average, organizations receive 5 – 10 responses daily from service users. This has resulted in improvements ranging from adding shower curtains to the starting of a job program to help staff and train homeless individuals in a soup kitchen.

By way of full disclosure, I sit on the Advisory Board for Pulse for Good. One of the reasons why I think Pulse for Good is a good product is because of the advisors they have assembled to help ensure the product is hitting the mark and reaching its aims. This includes current and former homeless individuals, as well as national homeless experts like Mark Johnston and Lloyd Pendleton, people involved in service delivery and academia.

If you are serious about feedback from your service users or the organizations you fund, and you want a successful platform for doing so, then I strongly recommend you check out Pulse for Good. It is not a free service. But you have to ask yourselves, what is the cost of not getting good feedback on the programs and services you are offering?

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.


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