Harnessing client feedback in the social sector

Stream: Disability and diversity
Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Time: 10.45 am – 12.25 pm


Objective: To understand the current use of client feedback in the disability sector and provide guidance for effective practice across the human services sector Background: Client feedback is critical to improving client outcomes. Dissatisfaction reduces engagement, and without engagement, it is hard to have positive impact. In consumer-directed environments, client feedback is even more critical. Providers cannot deliver outcomes or achieve financial sustainability without acquiring and retaining clients: clients need to identify them as a good provider and be satisfied with their service. Methods: We selected the disability sector as we expected it to be more advanced at using client feedback due to the new consumer-directed environment. Respondents were 18 of Australia’s largest and most promising service providers: established providers with revenue >$20m and new providers experiencing triple-digit growth. Collectively, they represent ~$2b in disability revenue, or ~40% of total paid NDIS support in FY18. Results: -The systematic use of client feedback in the disability sector is still underdeveloped -Only 1 of the 18 providers exhibited behaviours close to best practice: it collected feedback weekly and shared it the same day -3 collected no feedback Conclusion: There is room for significant improvement across the disability sector by: -Increasing the frequency of collection and speed of dissemination -Sharing individual, verbatim feedback -Establishing routines that help staff take effective action based on the feedback received -Closing the loop with the clients who provided the feedback These findings are relevant not only for the disability sector by the human services sector more broadly.


Diana Ferner (Presenter), Social Ventures Australia
As a Director at Social Ventures Australia, Diana advises non-profits, governments, and funders on how to improve and sustain their impact, particularly in the wake of sector reform. She leads the team’s work in Disability, and has led projects spanning strategy, operating model design, collaboration, M&A, and outcomes management, including the merger of House with No Steps, The Tipping Foundation, and VISTA Inc. Diana holds a BA in Government and a minor in Economics from Harvard University, and a Master of Public Health from the University of Sydney. She is a non-executive director of the Physical Disability Council of NSW.