Feedback….be careful (and be sure) what you ask for

I see, hear and read a great deal about feedback – how to give it, how to receive it and what to do with it.

Unfortunately, if someone is going to ask me for feedback, I am genetically predisposed to giving it; it astounds me how defensive we all are even when specifically asking for it.
Having worked in and with companies using surveys I have seen how this feedback is/isn’t used and being a consumer myself, I have experienced how ineffective at best and excruciatingly frustrating at worst it can be – it is not a pretty picture.

Three crucial points here:

1. Our People / Culture

It is critical to act on feedback and at the very least should acknowledge the person taking the time to give it. Too many times defensiveness and self-preservation come to the fore – it doesn’t bode well for leaders or company culture if their people are that insecure, they try to defend or sweep it under the carpet.

2. Our Customers

We are all surveyed almost every time we hire a car, use our bank, stay in a hotel….etc….etc – it is becoming difficult because there are so many ways to gather data, consumers don’t feel listened and have become desensitised to the number of times they are asked for it (and usually ignored).
The importance and value of the gold that resides in authentic feedback from those taking the time to give it is hugely valuable.

3. Our Future

20 years ago, my boss went on an study tour overseas seeing many companies in a very short space of time from our industry. The most impressive and successful organisation he spent time with listened to two groups of people – staff and customers, that’s it, no one else. It became our mantra for the next few years and helped the company become an industry leader.

The Lessons:

  • Business is easy, people just stuff it up, it can be as simple as Richard Branson said “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients”.
  • We all need to (re) learn and keep practicing the art of hard conversations, Artificial Intelligence / CRM / Email / Text messaging / Computer surveys etc… are wonderfully efficient in their space but they will never be able to replace the magic that happens in human connection, never.

Charlie Pidcock