Client feedback and downward accountability

In a recent blog post on The Guardian, an Oxfam staffer asks whether the feedback loops in development aid could be strengthened - looking to Trip Advisor, an online portal for hotel and restaurant reviews, as an example of information crowdsourced from actual users.

It makes me think - what could the legal empowerment field do to promote “Trip Advisor”-like reviews of individual paralegals, entire projects, or even organizations by the end users of the services?

How do you collect feedback from the clients of paralegals or other justice service providers? How do you use this information? Have you seen client feedback mechanisms themselves promote client empowerment and agency?

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Thank you @lauragoodwin for this. I think it’s very important that namati and the legal empowerment field in general does more to solicit feedback from clients, and use that feedback to improve our work.

Today in Uttara Kannada, @mrhegde and our paralegals here hosted the first “client party.” This was a lovely idea from @manjumenon. The hope is to foster a broader coalition among our clients, so that we can all work together to address common problems facing the district.

One of the exercices we conducted was to ask clients to consider three questions: 1) how satisfied are you with the outcome of your case, 2) how satisfied are you with the process by which your case was resolved, and 3) how much did you learn about law and taking action?

For each of these questions, clients pinned to the wall either a green ribbon (a lot), a yellow one (some), or a red one (not at all). See the photos below.

We had 12 greens and 3 yellows for process- from the discussion we gathered that to be positive feedback about our approach, especially that we make use of the law rather than resorting immediately to protest. For outcome satisfaction we had 9 greens and 7 yellows-- pretty good given how tough it is to get environmental justice remedies here.

The disappointing finding was with “how much did you learn”-- we got 13 yellows and 3 greens This question cuts to the heart of our mission of ‘legal empowermnet.’ We committed during the meeting to do more to educate our clients.

Not one person decided to pin a red ribbon- perhaps a lesson that, in order to accomodate politeness, it makes sense to include gradations beyond good and bad.

Overall, we felt this was a nice way to collect and visualize feedback from clients of varying literacy levels. It sparked a rich discussion.

Would love to hear other ideas for how to solicit and use client feedback.

Much love from Mablu’s kitchen.

v

Here’s our paralegal Rupa (second from left) and several of the clients who joined us. The meeting was at the campus of our host partner organization here, Sneha Kunja. Mangoes are in season, and we had an exquisite “mango paisum” with lunch. l

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I like this activity soliciting feedback from our clients. Through the feedback, we could reflect ourselves and learn how much our strategies are effective or ineffective in order to make correction/better quality results.

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Soliciting client feedback is a very excellent idea. Since empowerment is a very broad terminology, one of the ways of judging whether our capacity building strategy is making any impact is by periodically getting feedback from the communities and people that we work with. Client feedback helps to shape our programs and programming needs. It is an excellent way of gauging whether, as an organization, we are meeting the goals and targets that we have set. I’ll be keen to hear suggestions about tools and mechanisms that are appropriate for client feedback as this discussion continues.

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