Last week I was very quick to give feedback to the owner of a small business whose service and product I had been really disappointed with. After a trial class (it was a mom’s and baby group that I had been looking forward to participating in), I thought the best thing I could do was to phone the owner and let her know why I wouldn’t be attending going forward? She hadn’t taken the class personally, and so I thought she would appreciate my feedback regarding the person who was representing her business.
The owner’s response made me realize that it’s a lot easier to hand out feedback than it is to receive it. I honestly did have the best intentions – if it had been my business I would like to think that I would rather hear why I’d lost a potential customer so that I could work on fixing the problem. I would have asked ‘me’ questions as to why the customer wasn’t coming back, how I could improve the service, what the customer was looking for and what would differentiate myself from the 5 other franchises all doing basically the same thing, charging the same price and providing a similar product? Instead, the phone call I had made was cut short after saying ‘your classes aren’t for me’. Why would they not want to hear what I, the customer, had to say?
Well, 3 days later I myself had to take on some feedback that I didn’t really want to hear – it wasn’t said directly, it wasn’t even meant as feedback, but the situation called for me to assess what had happened and evaluate where I could have done something differently. Initially I made up many excuses in my head, blamed a couple of other people and convinced myself it was circumstantial. But if I’m honest, the service I provided could have been better and it’s an area I need to improve in – there I said it…. The world hasn’t stopped, people still like me and I’m still doing a good job….
The thing is, if I had not recently been a bit put out by someone not taking my feedback well, I’m not sure I would have given the ‘feedback’ I had received a second thought – it would have remained someone else’s fault and a fully justified error in my mind. I think like most people, I hate admitting to a mistake or fault or even that there is an area for improvement that can be identified.
So my question is this – when last did you ask for honest feedback, especially when you know it’s not been your best job? And when you do receive feedback, either directly or indirectly – what do you do with that feedback?
In my opinion it’s a critical mechanism that can differentiate you, your service and your business, if you remain open when feedback is given, and ensure you’re proactive in doing something with it!
Jude – what a well written and honest post! This really hit home for me – work is personal … and so it’s hard not to take feedback personally. When it’s good feedback you feel on top of the world – but when it’s less than glowing … it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
We should all learn the fine art of accepting feedback gracefully … and I hope that I will have the maturity to sift out the lessons and use it as a tool for growth and improvement.
Thank you for sharing your story!
Thanks for your feedback on my post Sim 🙂 I totally agree with you and also think the more we start asking for honest feedback the easier it’ll get to take the good with the bad.