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Inviting Constructive Feedback to Avoid Negative Criticism

In recent months, we’ve seen several cases where social media has facilitated public lambasting and changed lives overnight. If an inappropriate racist remark that went viral can result in the loss of jobs, social ostracising, family fallout and legal consequences, we have to acknowledge the significant potential for businesses to be negatively affected by social media outcries.

Times have changed. In the past, if your customers had a bad experience with your business, the worst that could happen would be a bit of bad mouthing around the braai and at the hair salon, or the remote possibility of a letter of complaint published in the local community newspaper.

These days, social media gives every consumer a massive booming voice that communicates dissatisfaction to a vast audience of potential customers and allows other equally unsatisfied customers the opportunity to jump on the band wagon.

There are two valuable lessons to be learned here.

Firstly, you simply can’t afford to stuff up anymore… there is no mercy when your customers have access to such massive communication channels. Doing things right the first time, delivering what you promise and fixing mistakes immediately to the satisfaction of the customer is becoming more and more important.

Secondly, you need to build feedback into your customer experience so that your clients have the opportunity to tell you where you messed up rather than telling the world.

Inviting constructive feedback has a number of positive spinoffs beyond avoiding negative social media attention.

Without feedback, you can’t grow and improve. Feedback gives to insight into blind spots that you may not be aware of. You can’t change a process or product or a behaviour if you are not aware of its flaws. Feedback gives you an opportunity to make good, and to make changes.

By inviting the feedback, you are telling your customers that you value their opinion and send a strong message that you aim to please and improve.

When you get feedback from your customers, you are more likely to retain them as customers. Remember, it is much easier and more profitable to retain an existing customer than to secure a new one, so businesses need to do what it takes to keep their customers coming back for more.

Inviting feedback needs to be ingrained in the mindsets of the team and the values and culture of the business. It needs to become second nature to ask for it, accept it and act on it. The more you ask for feedback, the more conscious you will be of ensuring that the service you give will result in positive feedback. And positive feedback makes for great marketing on social media platforms!

So how do you invite feedback without sending out a formal customer satisfaction survey that relies on your customers to take the time to respond? The best way to get feedback is to ask for it. Go back to your business processes and identify the touch points where you could ask for feedback as you progress. It can be formal, but more effective when feedback is part of the everyday conversation.

Spring is in the air. It’s a time for renewed energy and growth and another opportunity for resolutions to see you through to the end of the year. Make a resolution to invite constructive feedback on your personal leadership as well as your business.

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