If you're happy and you know it push the button
It's one of the simplest, most intuitive and least intrusive pieces of technology in the public sphere: a terminal with four plastic buttons adorned with faces ranging from a smiling dark green to an angry bright red.
You may have noticed them around - at overseas airports, in your doctor's surgery, at a shopping centre, your gym or local cafe.
And you can expect to see a lot more of them, with an Australian outfit investing substantially in Finnish tech company HappyOrNot's customer feedback system, and its next iteration in the form of touchscreens due to land here in March.
HappyOrNot is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Push My Button, its sole reseller in the two countries.
Push My Button director Derek Lamb said more than 100 organisations in Australia - including multinationals such as Ikea and McDonald's - used the system, which can provide daily data and analytics based on the buttons people push.
The University of NSW, University of Melbourne and LaTrobe University are among major education institutions to have used the system, while Transport NSW has also tested it out at community events.
The biggest take-up in Australia had been in health, Mr Lamb said, with more than 20 organisations from the sector using it, from primary care networks that manage doctors' surgeries to major hospitals such as Melbourne's The Alfred.
An early adopter of the system was Kyabram District Health Services in northern Victoria.
Its CEO, Peter Abraham, said he was initially unsure about its value after encountering it at a conference two years ago, but gave it a try anyway.
The service now uses four terminals, each costing $2000 annually, to provide information about various parts of the organisation.
"It was only on trial initially and we were really sceptical about whether we’d get pushes or not, whether people would get bored of it. But actually that didn’t really happen." (The terminals have a timing mechanism that stops registering pushes if, for example, a child hits the buttons repeatedly).
The feedback it provides identify areas in need of improvement, and has since helped it post a record 100 per cent positive result from patients over three consecutive quarters, Mr Abraham said.
The service has used the terminals to collect data about everything from how patients in the emergency wards feel about their level of care, to how cafe patrons rate its coffee, or how satisfied employees are with their workplace and management.
It has also taken the system, which uses wireless technology, out into the community to ask locals how they feel about the organisation.
The terminals are also quite widespread in retail. Michael Whitehead, who manages Chadstone Shopping Centre - Australia's largest - in Melbourne's south-east, said HappyOrNot was currently in use by its contractor Spotless in a food court to rate cleanliness.
It has also been employed in other parts of the shopping centre to assess customer satisfaction, for example about the standard of hygiene in their public toilets.
"We're using it wherever we can get the most value out of it, because it's live feedback" Mr Whitehead said. "These sorts of technologies are really good for monitoring feedback. But we also use social media channels, phone calls and written [responses]."
HappyOrNot's Chris Armstrong, who is spearheading the company's Asia Pacific expansion, said the technology's low barrier to usage was the key to its success.
"It's immediate. People instinctively tell you their true feelings. There’s real value in that."
Australian company Airtree Ventures certainly sees the value in the concept, and has invested several million dollars in its new touch-screen units and expansion across south-east Asia. The new smart screens will allow for more detailed information capture and deeper insights.
Airtree partner John Henderson said the sheer numbers HappyOrNot had amassed in its first eight years - 600 million responses in more than 100 countries, more than the number of reviews posted to websites such as Amazon, Yelp or TripAdvisor - made it an attractive investment.
As did the high ratings its own customers gave the business. "Every one of HappyOrNot's customers that we spoke to had made changes to their business off the back of the insights gleaned from the platform," Mr Henderson said.