Managing, responding to and sharing feedback

Engagement is an activity that generates information as well as relationships.
Before you engage ensure you are prepared to manage the information you will gather.

To manage, respond to and share information and feedback you will need to:

Consider how you will comply with information management requirements

For information you have either created or gathered you will need to:

For any personal information you have gathered you will need to:

The volume of information you collect will depend on how open your engagement is, how far you broadcast the opportunity to participate, how open your questions are, and if you are treating input as formal, informal or social.

It is important to communicate publicly how the feedback received will be treated. You must clearly state in your engagement policy how will you collect, collate and analyse the information and how will it be reported publicly and internally. This is especially important for formal consultation processes required under legislation.

Consider data collation and reporting before inviting input

Before designing methods to engage online consider:

  • How you will collate data across systems for analysis and reporting?
    • Can you get your tools to talk to each other or integrate?
    • Can you export or import data from one tool to another?
    • How will you manage data collected offline and compare it to data collected online?
  • The types of reports you will need.
    • Do you need to know issues per area, issues across stakeholder groups, issues at a certain time or phase of engagement?
  • Whether you need to store, use and share the data for issues and relationship management or future engagement.
    • This may include sharing data with other agencies responsible for issues outside your scope.
    • Your information management team will be able to advise about data storage, use and sharing.
  • How to ensure consent is collected with data to meet all your future user scenarios.
    • Most agencies have a privacy officer who can help you with this.
  • How data can be managed to ensure you meet information, records and privacy requirements.
    • This should be outlined in your protocols.

Define your moderating and response process

If you’re using a discussion forum, a moderation policy and agreed protocols for management are essential to ensure your approach is applied consistently and risks are managed. This moderation and response process should also be included in your engagement policy.

You will also need to nominate someone to get alerts and may choose to hire an Online Community Manager to champion discussion regularly add fresh content and encourage participants to engage. This role would also be responsible for the publishing of comments, keeping stakeholders engaged and the management of the issues and risk process.

A supplementary document has been added to this guide to help you plan for the management of discussion forums. This tool will help you understand and plan your moderation and risk management approach and build the right team of resources to manage your discussion forums.

Be responsive, demonstrate you’re listening

Demonstrating you’re listening makes two-way engagement through online surveys and submission forms a much more responsive and open process. It also demonstrates transparency of your process which builds trust and makes your processes much more engaging.

Be prepared to share information, listen and respond to information and stories shared by your stakeholders. Listen to what they talk about online, how they talk about your topic, language used, who they trust and content they like. Consider how your story fits and shape it accordingly to illustrate your story. Sharing others' content can also help build relationships online and offline.

Have a plan for how you will develop responsive and reactive content. Provide your Online Community Manager with key messages and a style guide so the tone of content developed is consistent. You will also need a procedure for how issues will be tracked, risk determined and how responsive and reactive content will be approved. Include this in your Issues and risk management profile (IRMP).

Publish comments

In two-way engagement it is quite common for submissions to be published publicly during or after consultation. Consent is requested to do this with specific questions asked about the publishing of personal data.

Three-way engagement requires the publishing of comments for everyone to see, like and comment on. You might publish pins on a map, comments on a discussion forum and ideas shared.

Some argue that if published feedback can influence the views of the participants that follow. It is also argued that seeing others' viewpoints published can help put the issue and stakeholders own interests into context and encourage active citizenship.

When publishing comments a decision needs to be made about whether you will:

  • let people publish comments; and moderate after they are submitted (post-moderation)
  • moderate comments before they’re published (pre-moderation).

This should be accounted for in your issues and risk management profile.

See the guidance on discussion forum moderation.

Publish feedback and final reports

Progressive feedback reporting is a great way to provide responsive content and an excellent way to keep participants engaged. As explained in the Case Study: Wellington City Council Draft Long Term Plan, some local governments have used live public dashboards to count down the last days and hours of engagement and display quantitative feedback gathered in real time. This is a great way to close the loop if your approach to engagement changes across the phases of your project.

Publishing the final reports of consultation, or closing the loop, is standard practice. Demonstrate how you’re listening by also publishing summaries of feedback and how it was treated during the decision-making process. This shows respect to stakeholders who have invested their time and attention to engagement. In some cases these engagement outputs also include a summary of themes and how key issues raised have or will be addressed in the next phase of the project development.

Send us your feedback

This guidance is a work in progress, so please email us your feedback on how useful you found it, what was missing, how it could be improved.

Navigate this guidance