By Michael Hsu, creator of DeepSky & MEASURE x HACK to help entrepreneurs focus on taking over the world and live that CEO life.
If you’re in the service business, you have probably experienced the heart-sinking moment when a customer filed a complaint. And sometimes when it hits too close to home, it bruises the ego. It’s a common problem all businesses face. However, negative feedback doesn’t always equate to new problems that require new solutions. Most of the time complaints are a result of a slip-up in not following processes or an undocumented process changed without thorough discussion.
Negative Feedback Is Important
No matter how much criticism sucks, it is vital to a business. Especially for industries that lean on subjective tastes to make a profit. Ask anyone who’s trying to thrive in the creative space, feedback is one of the most important fuels in making progress.
Criticism allows people to create a roadmap to corrective action. For example, before a comedian gets on the big stage to perform a full set of standups, the performer typically tries out jokes in front of a small crowd to get a taste of the reaction. Then the comedian might try different ways of delivering the joke — different timing, different order or a completely different punchline to see which lands best. Throughout the course of getting feedback, the performer can adjust the set accordingly. Think of customer feedback the same way. This feedback acts as the measurement to let you know what behaviors you need to change to hack the growth.
Feedback doesn’t always have to be received in a bad light. A lot of the time it’s merely used in optimizing the best result. It’s common in advertising to test content with a small audience before paying in full to reach more eyeballs. With a bigger budget, conducting focus groups is a plausible way to get feedback from people. The result shouldn’t have any emotional indication to it. It’s simply about which one is the most-liked and which one isn’t. Then advertisers use the feedback as data to decide either to scrub an element of the content or keep it. By actively seeking feedback early on, people get to get a taste of future results with the smallest amount of effort, very much like a minimum viable product.
Finding The Positive In Complaints
After receiving a complaint on our accounting error, our accountant got to work on correcting deliverables and tweaking processes on the original system to ensure the next order went smoothly. The measure he takes to stay agile to the client’s needs served as a reminder to the client why they chose our service in the first place — for its flexibility in face of challenge. This dip was handled with care, which in turn strengthened the trust between our client and us. It was a chance to demonstrate that we will always have our client’s back. We take negative feedback not only as fuel to do things right but also as an opportunity to strive for better. One of our core mottos is to “be better than yesterday,” and this embodies that spirit.
Create A Feedback Loop
Do not wait for feedback. Go out there and get it. Set a monthly feedback meeting to check in with clients and employees and ensure everything is on track. Use the feedback as a fuel to grow and as a guide to change. But if you do get a complaint, don’t beat yourself up over it. Use the complaint to show people that you can deal with a challenge. It can be a blessing in disguise.