How many times have you been requested to give feedback to one of your suppliers, providers or employees, to see them do nothing with it? What a waste of your time and brainpower. Why do people continue with doing surveys, focus groups and reviews to solicit feedback, when they know they are likely to do nothing with it? I believe it is because we are taught that we should always be asking for feedback, but we aren’t taught how to take it or what to do with it.
Feedback, lets be honest, who really likes it? If negative, it feels like an attack on our business or ourselves, and can cause us naturally to go into defensive mode. The implications of going into this self defensive mode is that you will not properly listen to the feedback you are being given, nor be able to think critically if there is something you could improve. If customers know that you won’t actually do anything with their feedback, then they will stop giving it to you or worse they will tell everyone else about their feedback on your product and service and you will be none the wiser.
There are a number of benefits to creating an environment where you are given regular feedback about your business. Some of these are:
- Identify parts of your product or service that your customers really value or don’t value – this will help you make decisions of where to invest or potentially stop wasting time or money.
- Learn how to improve the customer experience – you may think you have a great product or service but your customer experience may be letting you down. Experience is becoming more and more important to consumers and the best way to find out what they want is to ask them.
- Improve client retention – Customers generally don’t want to leave you, but if they continue to have problems they are often forced to. If you can identify these problems early enough, it provides you with a chance to fix them and make the customer happy. The cost of gaining a new client is 5 -7 times more expensive than keeping one, so this is critical.
- Identify team members who are going above and beyond or not – It is often quite hard to determine which team members are doing the right things or performing at your expectations, Let the customer be the final judge.
- Identify raving fans – One of the best ways to grow your business is through word of mouth/customer referrals. If you find out that you have some raving fans you might be able to find ways to activate them and generate more sales out of them.
I am like most people, I don’t love getting feedback. However, I attribute a lot of where I have gotten to today, by constantly asking for it, and most importantly taking it in and doing something with it. The way I have managed to do this is to always focus on the outcome that I want to achieve. I am someone who always wants to learn and improve myself, if this means that I have to get uncomfortable then I just have to deal with it.
As founders, our businesses are usually an extension of ourselves, so when we are given feedback about our business we go through the same negative and defensive feelings.
This occurred to me recently when I did a member feedback survey for WE LOVE NUMBERS. Luckily we got a lot of great feedback and have identified that we have some raving fans who want to help us grow. We have now created a referral program and are helping our members who want to refer to us, do it in a way that is easy for them but also gets the best results. We are also thinking of creating a member ambassador program and member advisory board.
Now to be transparent I want to share with you the not so good feedback that initially got me defensive, but then once I worked through these emotions I focused on what we could do to make improvements.
- Some of our team members are not responding timely enough – we are creating an expectations agreement that anyone who wants to work with us needs to abide by and be held accountable to.
- We are not as consistent as we need to be – We have improved our internal processes so they are easy to understand and also put accountability and checking systems in place.
- Some of the tools that we think are great are not being utilized properly – I have taken back over product research and development to ensure that we are approaching it from an entrepreneur’s mindset.
- Some members told us that perhaps we should be charging them more, so we can dedicate more time to them – We have now put in a quarterly audit process where we review all packages to ensure they are correctly priced.
- Some of our number lovers are amazing and unfortunately some aren’t – We are building a training and development program to continuously upskill everyone in the team. We are also going to implement a pay for performance program where members ratings determine bonuses for our team members.
- Mistakes have been made that the leadership team were not aware of – We are focused on building a culture where mistakes are celebrated as long as they are shared with everyone in the team immediately, communication about our plan to rectify is given to the member, and most importantly a process is improved to ensure the mistake does not occur again.
- We are wasting time and effort on some of our deliverables – We are going to be getting rid of some of the actions that we are doing so we can focus on higher priority items and the most critical member needs.
- Our induction process could be better – We have made our induction process a lot more detailed and structured. We have also hired dedicated induction experts to help with the process.
- People are not clear on what is included in their membership – We have improved our sales process to provide a lot more clarity on exactly what the member requires and what we will and won’t be doing.
Some people may respond to all of this feedback negatively or think that their business is not failing. We approached it differently, as we see all of this feedback as free insight on how to improve and grow our business. We are lucky enough to have members who care about us and want us to succeed, and we owe it to them to make our business better every day.
We are so focused on becoming a client/service-driven company that we are going to be rolling out processes which enable us to continuously gain feedback. So if you are member, please take the time to give us feedback, both good and bad, and I can assure you it will be acted on.
The biggest thing that came out from all of the feedback, is that we identified we were missing a key role in the business. In one of my upcoming blogs I will be speaking about the importance of having both a visionary and an integrator in the business. We are now lucky enough to have Carrie Dolan in the business who will be running the day to day of the business. Her focus is all about improving the member experience and this is why her title is Chief Experience Officer (CXO).
So it’s time to let go of your ego and start soliciting feedback from your customers, but remember getting feedback and doing nothing with it is worse than not getting it at all.
Article written by Finn Kelly