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Ask the Readers: Customer Feedback – When is Enough, Enough?

Do you remember back when you were in high school or college, and you got feedback on almost everything you did?

Write a test – get feedback.

Submit a paper – get feedback.

Act-up in class – get feedback. 😉

Then, once you graduate, the feedback – the input on how you’re doing, suggestions for how to improve, ideas about other approaches to try – dries up. You have to start figuring things out more independently, or actively seek feedback out for specific things.

Until your start a business, and have customers.

Then feedback becomes a big, important part of your life again.

And for the most part – that’s a great thing. Customer Feedback is really valuable stuff, in all areas of your life – personal, professional – you name it.

Feedback is Really Valuable…

As a business owner, you need to solicit customer feedback all the time.

The input about whether or not a product or service does what they need it to, if it was convenience to access, if it was easy to use – all help you make good business decisions.

For the most part, you have to ask for this kind of input, and that can be done in a variety of ways; email, phone, comment cards, surveys, social media – there are tons of ways to get it. And when asked – people tend to like talking about their opinions.
So feedback is important, and we have a bunch of different options for getting it.

But…

Sometimes, the feedback you get… well, it isn’t helpful.

But it can be hard to tell when feedback is useful, and when it’s just complaining.

Let’s look at when that happens.

  • Maybe you have a few survey respondents saying on a survey that there isn’t enough one-on-one support for your product.
  • Maybe you call someone to see how they’re doing with your program and they tell you that the format really doesn’t work from them.
  • Maybe you get an email or two, or three saying that what the received was not what they expected.

Which do you listen to and which do you politely disregard?

There are going to be times when feedback just isn’t helpful, or practical, and in those instances, it’s better to stick to your guns.

The temptation is there to respond, quickly and thoroughly to feedback because… well the customer is king, and your job is to give them what they want – right?

Well yes – but let’s be honest – there are times (we all know them!) when you know better than the customer what they need, what you’re able to provide and in what matter.

But that’s just one way of looking at things… and this is an ask the readers post – so tell me:

  • How do you solicit customer feedback?
  • How closely to you pay attention to it?
  • When do you act on it, and when do you ignore it?
  • What goes into making those decisions?

Let me know in the comments!

About Megan Dougherty

Megan Dougherty is an alumnus of Mirasee and is passionate about online education, small business and making a difference in the world. You can find out what she's up to and how side-hustles will take over the world at PayingforLife.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeganTwoCents.

14 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: Customer Feedback – When is Enough, Enough?

  1. Once a week, everyone at Flippa (the company I work for) receives an email with all the feedback our customers left in the previous 7 days. It’s a long email, and I don’t know if everybody reads it every week, but it’s the highlight of my Wednesday morning.

    The #1 feedback we receive, every week: lower your fees!

    That’s not going to happen. Not because we’re cruel and heartless, but because we’re a business, and we carefully evaluated and tested our pricing before settling on our current structure. That’s the kind of feedback we automatically ignore.

    Everything else (from “I don’t like the way your homepage looks” to “you should write about X topic on your blog!”) is read, thought about, and responded to, if needed.

  2. Just starting so no real feedback to report re my biz, Self-Knowledge College,but my earlier work as a college prof got lots of feedback.
    The customer isn’t always right but we are here to serve the client so it’s simply smart to solicit feedback and act on it.

  3. The way I see it, it’s about knowing your own business aims & target market. Most often, the people complaining all the time are NOT your target market! Ignoring it (as hard as that is) is the most efficient way of staying focussed on the people you’re called to help and filtering out those you aren’t. Of course, if you’re hearing feedback again and again from loyal followers – listen up!

  4. How do you solicit feedback?
    Following a conference I have an evaluation form that I give to everyone in attendance.

    How closely to you pay attention to it?
    I pay a great deal of attention to it because I want to connect with the audience. And while it’s “usually” a compliment or a note of encouragement, it’s sometimes a critique of my style, and I’m good with that too!

    When do you act on it, and when do you ignore it?
    I try to act on every one. I request emails, if they give it to me I contact them within a week of getting home and settled in. Communication is key as a speaker and they want it to go both ways. So I oblige!

    What goes into making those decisions?
    Prayer and commitment to my ministry. As a Christian speaker I want to leave the audience edified and encouraged, if they don’t feel that way it is perhaps something else going on in their life, or my message went awry. I want to know the truth!

  5. As a small business/website owner, I’ve found that you know your customers pretty well, and it’s fairly easy to tell who’s just being obnoxious and who’s offering legitimate feedback. If you don’t have direct contact with your customers, there is someone who does.

    This is my experience – haven’t done too much in the way of surveys yet.

  6. We regularly solicit feedback, read ’em all and make changes, adjustments and modifications when appropriate.
    We offer multiple services and experience all feedback as ‘helpful hints’ to make us better.
    Occasionally, we do have a complainer who needs their daily supply of ‘suffrons’ to be OK. We see those ‘complaints’ as ‘their way of boasting about how much they can endure’.
    Additionally, we thank everyone for their contributions by rewarding them.

  7. How and when I get feedback: However and whenever possible. At every opportunity – be it emails, phone calls, or any other type of “touch.” It doesn’t always need to be a formal survey, although those help too. I just ask.

    From customers, prospects, and readers of my blog – I pay particular attention to their feedback regarding things they want but don’t have and also service/use issues. Things like “this is confusing” or “that is really easy to navigate” etc.

    When it comes to criticism or making big changes, I tend to only listen to myself and trusted advisors because (as someone above said) people who are just gripers are not exactly hard to find. You can find yourself chasing tangents if you listen too much to those who have a tendency to complain about anything and everything.

  8. Good point about feedback! You’re conditioned to receive it, but when you start a business, or even work full-time, you don’t always receive feedback.

    I like the idea of using polls and surveys. Reading blog post comments is another way to receive feedback. I pay attention to it, but if the feedback doesn’t resonate with me, I don’t use it. I’ll file the feedback away and review it in three to six months. If it still doesn’t resonate with me, no problem. If it does, I can make the necessary changes.

  9. I think asking for feedback is like asking for a favor and thus I only do it when a) I have a critical need for information and b) I haven’t asked for something in a while. What is “a while”? Honestly it depends.

    Recently I’ve been asking readers if I should write a book. Not if they would buy it or tell their friends to buy it, but if the world actually NEEDS another book. I’ve gotten TONS of feedback on this topic and it’s been super helpful/actionable.

    For me that means not asking for something big until maybe mid August? This is based entirely on gut though so you’ll have to overlook the lack of science in that 🙂

  10. For me the big question is how to make my customers (readers, I’m a Kindle author) to give a helpful feedback.
    Positive feedback (not complaining) is not always helpful too. I asked my readers a bunch of questions, one of replies was: “your book had some great ideas that I started implementing today. Thank you and much success!”
    Yes it’s nice, but which ideas did she start implementing? Why she found them “great”?
    And generally establishing a proper channel of communication is important. How to figure out the way to reach them?

  11. I just sent out my first feedback questionnaire this morning, so it’s pretty interesting to read a post that talks about it. 🙂

    I taught The Live Raw, Fiery, & BOLD Academy for the first time in June, and I made sure to ask my ladies how they found the class + content during each Google+ Hangout. I found it was easier to get concrete responses in real time as opposed to posting questions in the private Facebook group.

    I disregarded feedback to reduce the number of curated blog posts for each lesson because “it was a lot of reading” because I made it clear right from the get-go that there’d be a lot of content.

  12. Just because a comment box is one of the oldest forms of employee feedback doesn’t mean it might not be useful for your business. Although it feels a little cold, and, frankly, antique, Wojtkowiak says keeping a suggestion box is an easy way to let employees know you’re interested in their opinion outside annual surveys. Town hall-style meetings and other group events that place management in front of workers are also becoming popular with companies. Or, consider an online portal where employees can send an anonymous note or post. Employee feedback can also be worked in from Day One. Wojtkowiak says successful organizations incorporate the need for employee feedback options and open communications in their training programs.

  13. But for the bigger stuff (national media, press conferences, large-scale promotions), you should partner with a professional. And that’s going to cost you. A large PR agency can easily charge business clients $20,000 a month. On the other hand, it’s not hard to find a good freelancer who’ll work for $50 an hour. This is just one reason it’s important to shop around.

  14. Yelp’s review filter drives both Yelp’s value and its greatest frustration among small business owners. Invariably people complain when good reviews are filtered out, although not when bad ones are filtered, of course. But what makes Yelp helpful is that it does a better job than most review sites getting you useful reviews.

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