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Don’t shy away from negative feedback
Don’t shy away from negative feedback

Why bad feedback is the best feedback

When it comes to your business, some opinions can be very hard to hear – but JEANNIE WALTERS explains why it’s actually best to bite the bullet and accept all feedback, no matter how bad it sounds at first.

Employers need to provide oodles of feedback to employees to ensure they know what they’re doing, what they’re supposed to be doing, what they’re doing well and what they could be doing better.

Good feedback is great for reinforcing confidence and building morale and, surprisingly, negative feedback can be just as useful, if not more so.

This is because negative feedback, whether from employees or customers, provides a way to prevent little annoyances from becoming reasons for good customers to leave and good workers to quit.

Bad feedback tells you what you need to change and shows you what’s really important to the most important people in your business – your customers and your staff.

Feedback is big

The hardest part of my job is collecting and then reporting bad feedback to clients about behaviours and aspects of their business that harm their customers’ experiences. Here are some of the truly horrific things I’ve had to utter to clients:

Your website or app stinks – Customers have asked for the same website or app improvements over and over again. They don’t understand why it’s not a priority, especially when your competitor is delivering on it now! In fact, your sales team goes out of its way to avoid showing it to prospects.

Your customer communication is self-serving or non-existent – Customers have reported giving up on your business simply because you’re not communicating effectively with them. They need to hear from you about things that matter to them, and not just when you have a new marketing newsletter.

Your social media is stagnant – Customers are offering you vital feedback and you’re providing them with no response, which soon becomes a reason not to interact any further with your brand.

"Negative feedback, whether from employees or customers, provides a way to prevent little annoyances from becoming reasons for good customers to leave and good workers to quit"

Your social channels are a two-way street. They are there to keep you in the front of your customers’ minds, update them on any changes and provide important information about your business. They are also there to give customers a place to ask questions. Don’t neglect them.

Your sales and marketing teams are at war – The key teams in your business are, in essence, working against each other and the customers are paying for it when their expectations aren’t met.

Your staff hate their jobs – Your workers feel useless and frustrated. They reported not getting enough direction or feedback to do their jobs – or even to care about keeping those jobs.

Your internal communications are cold and numbing – Your messages to staff do nothing but scold and make demands of your employees. It’s important to keep staff members informed but shaming them for the way they do their jobs or demanding they attend training simply for training’s sake doesn’t serve anyone.

You’ve hired the wrong people – While you’ve chosen people who have the right set of skills, you haven’t hired people who truly want to do right by your customers.

Some people get the job done with a focus on process and policy, not with a focus on the customer experience. These staff won’t go above and beyond for your customers.

This is just a sample of items that can go wrong in a business and the list is limitless.

Can you take it?

I won’t lie; it’s not easy to listen to negative feedback. I actually had one CEO downright refuse to hear it. In fact, he said I must have spoken to the ‘wrong’ customers!

I had another business leader who got so excited about hearing my feedback that she asked me to get her people on board and up to speed by training them on customer-centric attitudes. Guess which company fared better?

Yes, difficult feedback is hard to take. We’ve all had that sinking feeling that something you know in your heart to be true is laid out there for the world to see.

It’s easier to ignore, deflect and defend, to put that head in the sand and carry on with the status quo.

I’m asking you to be brave. Put your defences aside and understand that feedback, in all its ugly glory, allows you to improve proactively instead of waiting passively for the inevitable decline.

There are always organisations and leaders out there who are ignoring the feedback that could help them soar. Don’t be one of them. Take a good look at what your staff and customers are saying about your business before it’s too late.

Jeannie Walters

Contributor • Experience Investigators

Jeannie Walters is founder and CEO of Experience Investigators. Learn more:

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