Customer feedback forms, professional development reviews, 360 degree reviews – these are words that can make many people sweat! For many of us, knowing that we are about to receive feedback can be rather daunting. But we need to reconsider what we think of feedback. As the cliché goes feedback is a gift.
We all know that feedback from our customers and peers is important, but do we actively seek it out? Do we actually want to hear what other people think? What do we do with the feedback we receive? Do we blindly seek any information or do we ask the really important questions that will give us real insight that we can work with? Are we brave enough to ask, build upon, then quite frankly: grow, improve and succeed?
So, why is feedback from your customers and peers so important?
I was once told that 10% of people will give great feedback, 10% will always have an issue but it is getting that other 80% of people to talk that will give you the insight you need. To put it simply, you cannot possibly know if you are doing a good job or exceeding your customers’ expectations unless you ask. Deep down, I think we all know feedback is important, so here are a few hints and tips to get us thinking about it.
How and when to ask for feedback – Seeking feedback is not new, nor is it rocket science. The important thing to remember is your objective or purpose; what angle are you coming from. You don’t want to ask leading questions, but saying things like “Tell me what you think” can open a flood gate. Keep the questions relevant to your objective.
Be specific, but also be timely. There is no point asking why you were overlooked for a project or promotion 12 months down the track, or asking how you can better meet the needs of your clients once they have left.
Why you should listen – Instead of overreacting to the feedback, think about ways it can help you improve. Honest and constructive feedback helps keep a pulse on what is going on, and will help you decide if any improvements need to be made. By listening to your customer’s concerns and suggestions, it proves that you are customer focused.
Just as you may have found it hard to ask for feedback, some people find it hard to give feedback. If someone has taken the time to pass on feedback, you should take the time to listen to their insights; it could save you money, help retain your customers or help improve your performance at work so that you stand out in the crowd.
How to handle the not so positive feedback – Firstly, take a deep breath. Focus on the words relating to actions rather than the word “you”. If you are asked to respond, take your time to reflect and then answer. If the feedback is face-to-face and you feel yourself getting emotional, try and take notes as it gives you something to do with your hands and will keep you focused.
I am reminded of the words of Norman Vincent Peale – “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism”. Just because we have been brave enough to ask for some feedback doesn’t mean that it will be positive. The key is to not take it personally – the feedback is a reflection of your work or a product not an indication of what they think of you as a person.
Do something positive – Build change based on the feedback you receive. If, through the feedback process, you have become aware of any problems, trying to resolve them will improve the team environment and your customer satisfaction levels. Yes, we could shoot in the dark about what our customers, clients, managers and peers think about us and what they want from us, and base critical business decisions based on these assumptions. Or, we could actually ask them!
So it’s time to ask yourself, will you be brave enough?