As a business person, the most exciting part of your work is likely to always be seeing the way that your products or services impact on the world and change the lives of real people. Seeing a product that you designed in someone’s hands or reading a raving review of your new service can fill you with immense pride and is a hugely rewarding and vindicating feeling.
But, then comes the other kind of feedback – the criticism and the complaints. No matter how diligent you are or how good your offerings are, there are always going to be people who are unhappy with what you do and who get in touch to let you know that. This can be disheartening and upsetting even, and you may find yourself considering writing back in a less-than-polite way.
What’s important to remember is that both kinds of feedback are actually crucial and incredibly useful. You shouldn’t be angry when you receive criticism – you should be grateful. This feedback is a golden opportunity to see your products or services the way that your customers or clients see them and to improve your business as a result. Some companies will pay through the nose for this kind of market research.
Know What to Ignore
The first piece of advice is to know when to ignore feedback. While a lot of it will be very useful and valid, there will of course be instances where it is not and where someone is just angry or doesn’t understand the product. If the complaint is a one-off and if it’s not founded on anything useful, then it’s fine to sift it out.
When you get feedback that’s well-founded and thoughtful, then it’s important to take it seriously. One way to put that feedback into action is to simply use it to prioritize the work you’re doing. Most companies will make it an on-going process to improve on their existing products; this way you can make sure that you spend your time wisely and make the changes that will have the biggest impact first. Of course, you need to weigh this up against cost and time as well. The best changes to make are the ones you can make quickly and cheaply, but that will satisfy the most customers.
New Complaints and Requests
While you will often be able to look for patterns to help you decide which existing areas to work on, once your reach is large enough you may start getting new suggestions or be alerted to problems that weren’t on your radar. This is a valuable opportunity to grow your business, so make sure that you listen and act on the issues. Sometimes, you will get contrasting feedback – some people might dislike a feature that others are excited by. In this case, you can consider offering different products and marketing them to different groups.
It’s not just the negative feedback that’s useful though – any positive input can likewise be very useful. For instance, if you get a lot of positive feedback about a certain feature, then you know that this is one of the most popular and you can use that in future marketing to improve sales. Likewise, positive feedback can also be used in the form of testimonials and quotes. However, first remember to ask permission from the person writing in.
You can also collect a lot of data from your feedback by simply looking at who is contacting you. Keep track of any information such as age, gender, location etc. and if they don’t volunteer it, don’t be afraid to follow up and ask!