The Value of Feedback

We have all done this – the number of times we moan about a meal to a friend dining with us, only to give a ‘fine thanks’ when the server asks, ‘everything OK with your meal?’

Why do we do this? In many ways it should be the start of an honest feedback process, but honest feedback rarely materialises, so this ‘game’ is of no value to the server or the served. The server isn’t aware of issues that could be corrected and the served either carries on accepting less than the best or goes elsewhere.

This is a massive ‘lose, lose’. 

Imagine a situation however where the chef from a restaurant came out to diners trying a new dish and said, ‘I have been working on this meal for a while and am still not sure I have it 100% right – what’s your view on this meal – this will help me going forward?’

This approach gives the respondent a ‘safe house’ to respond in and tacit permission to give their honest and open feedback as that ‘honesty door’ has been opened.

The chef benefits by making potential improvements to the dish that mean it is 100% acceptable to his customers and they will return for more.

Too many businesses treat their feedback mechanisms as a machine that has to be filled in the least costly and least awkward way as possible. Small companies, pressed for time and resource may put virtually nothing behind obtaining customer/ client feedback. It’s viewed as a luxury that must wait until the business grows. A really short-sighted view because real progress only comes by constantly tweaking things to continually search for excellence which in turn will create market leading scenarios.

The purpose of feedback is to get honest views that give any business the opportunity to change their business for the better with the market positives that this generates.

Here are Some Thoughts On How to Improve:

Make improvement your goal, not assessment.
Change feedback questions to make it clear that the business is seeking to improve — not to be told it’s doing well. Instead of asking “how did we do?” ask “what’s one thing could we do to have served you better today?”

Always focus on what customers/ clients do, not what they say.
As noted above, customers are not inclined to share their thoughts or feelings unless things are either really bad or if the interaction is framed in the right way. So instead of tracking “sentiment,” which can be misleading, track and observe customer behaviour. How often are customers repeating purchases? How frequently do they come to your business, store or site? What do they do when they’re there? In the case of a restaurant, which entrees come back half eaten and which inspire clean plates?

By combining data on customer behaviour with the power of observation, businesses can generate ideas on how they can continually improve the quality of their operations.

Make it a habit, not a periodic intervention.
As noted above, service issues can fester over time, causing customers to quit without warning. Prevention in this case is curative. So, switch up that bi-annual or quarterly survey instrument in favour of mechanisms that are continual and part of your culture.

Experiment with your feedback efforts. Make a small change and ask for feedback. Or make a more significant change in a small area of your business and see how customers respond. Pairing experimentation with an eye to observing customers and seeking honest input is a mechanism to continually improve your operations — as is seeing feedback as both a gift and an imperative.

By welcoming feedback as both a precious insight and a mandate, organisations can foster a dynamic and adaptive business environment that is responsive to customer needs and preferences. Establishing a genuine and meaningful feedback loop has the potential to elevate a business’s operational standards considerably. Creating a culture that encourages feedback and sees customers not as sources of approval or disapproval, but as partners who can contribute to the improvement of a company’s offering, is an important way to rethink the typical, unhelpful feedback ‘dance’ that exists today.

If you’d like help getting to the bottom of what your clients really think of your business, contact us on: 0116 232 5231 or get in touch with us at for a free, no obligation chat to help you forge the future well beyond your competition .

Why not have a look at our online learning platform, E-Learn, where you can find our interactive video-based online courses which combine professional presenters, animated graphics, interactive games and questions to keep participants engaged and are available anytime, anyplace on any web-enabled device. E-Learn courses are developed in accordance with current legislation, accredited by industry leading associations and approved by professional bodies.

Click here to access an E-Learn free trial.

The Tinderbox Team

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