Do You Really Want Feedback?

a black background with a red and green sign

Or do you want me to pander and let you know how amazing it is that you’ve built a thing? Any… thing?

About a year ago (what’s the statute of limitations on public shaming?) I got an email from someone who had just built something new. They reached out for “feedback” and were interested in partnering with WP Site Care with some cross-promotion.

I had never seen the product before so I asked for a demo before I started to shamelessly plug said product to the masses.

I got resistance from the seller because they had mistaken friendship for blind endorsement of anything they ever created. They honestly expected me to promote the product without ever even trying it out. That obviously made me immediately think that one or all of the following were in play:

  • The product was an actual piece of garbage
  • They were more interested in praise than feedback
  • The relationship we had developed was built on them accessing our network and nothing else

The reality is that I’m a pretty easy person to get along with, but that doesn’t mean that I’m willing to put my stamp of approval on something just because we shared nachos that one time at that thing. (If I’ve actually ever shared nachos with you then you’re probably one of my three favorite people in the world and I know whatever you’re building is amazing. Also, you probably aren’t building anything because my 3 favorite people don’t code. Sorry Rob.)

Where Does Feedback Come From?

A lot of people mistake feedback for criticism.

If I share suggestion or an improvement that I think can be made to your platform or service, it’s not because I’m drinking Haterade or eating Hater Tots. It’s because I want you to have an amazing product and be incredibly successful, and in my opinion (for whatever that’s worth), some things can be done a little bit differently to help you get rich and be all that you can be (I should write jingles).

I have a laundry list of all the things that I wish were better about WP Site Care, so for someone to ask me for feedback, and then take offense, or blow me off when I really try and provide value, is something that’s hard for me to even comprehend.

It’s totally fine to be self-aware and admit you can improve. I promise, it’s just fine.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you ask me for feedback, I’m really gonna try and take the Jason Fried approach (see tweet above) and mention things that I really believe will help take your product or service to the next level.

If you ask me for feedback when you actually want praise, or a shameless plug, I’ll probably write a blog post about you a year later and leave your name out of it.

What About Unsolicited Feedback?

Unsolicited feedback is the most important kind. If a customer or potential customer is willing to come to you and tell you what they’d like to change, consider yourself lucky they didn’t just send a refund request, click the cancel button, or skip over the signup in the first place.

It shows that they want the service/product to change or improve because they like you and like what you’re doing. It means they also understand that changing to a new provider or vendor would be a horrendous pain in the ass, so challenging you to improve is a much better approach.

love when customers challenge us to improve.

It opens dialogue and gives us the chance to make things right when we’ve screwed up. Or it can even give us an idea that a lot of our other customers want too.

Getting feedback is great. Listening to feedback and adapting fast is how you own your competition.

When Do You Leave Feedback?

Since I’ve become a business owner, I’ve tried to go out of my way to leave feedback anywhere I can, and really try and give solid, actionable feedback to the people who specifically reach out and ask me for help. I know how helpful strong feedback is in my business, so I figure I can take a few minutes when I get that phone call or email survey.

I’m always fascinated to see how companies respond to constructive feedback. It says a lot about who they are and what they value. Here are a few real life examples:

Aloft Hotel in Tempe

I stayed at this hotel two years ago for Pressnomics and it was rough. I mean, I’m not a picky traveler. A clean bed and a quiet room and I’m good to go. Let’s just say my stay there wasn’t what I’d call ideal. I think I gave the hotel an overall score of 3 out of 10 and gave some very specific insights into why it sucked.

The day after the I submitted my survey I got a phone call from the regional representative at Starwood offering me two free nights in the same hotel after the issues I had mentioned were addressed. He wanted to make sure the facilities were up to the standards of Starwood and asked that I give them another chance.

I haven’t been back to Tempe, and I didn’t take him up on the free nights, but 6 weeks later I received an email from that manager telling me how they had changed staff, procedures, and their facilities to get things back in tip top shape.

Last year we booked our LoopConf event (roughly 800 hotel nights) at another Starwood property. It wasn’t only because of my experience at the Aloft, but I’d be lying if the response from that manager didn’t play a role in our decision.

Chili’s in Orem

This is my “hometown Chili’s”. It’s obviously not the fanciest restaurant, but my boys like it so we find ourselves there about once a month. I can almost always find a fresh meal and it comes out quick. I always fill out the survey at the end of the meal on the Ziosk (I have some feedback about that name).

We’ve probably eaten there 30 times in the last two years and never had an issue, but on one specific night both the service and the food were not up to par. It was more of a bummer because it was Collin’s birthday. I think my exact words were “this meal came out of an Applebee’s takeout box and was served to us by a Comcast support representative”.

Again, I’m always quick to give praise, but I’ll also spell it out when things don’t go well. I left feedback in that magical Ziosk and the very next day I received an email from the Manager at Chili’s apologizing for the issues and inviting us back. Apparently they were short staffed in the kitchen and it ended up affecting pretty much every moving part of the restaurant. I did take him up on the offer for a free meal. I knew we’d be back soon enough. Also, free.

A Popular Web Hosting Company

Please don’t bother sending me DMs or emails asking me who this anonymous company is. I know how you roll 🙂 The company isn’t important, but their response was.

I felt like a situation with one of our clients was handled really poorly, so I wrote an email expressing concern and asking about how we could prevent similar things from happening in the future. To be clear, I wasn’t asking for cash dollars or even an apology. And it wasn’t that passive aggressive “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?” email that’s really asking “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?”. I wanted to let them know that things didn’t go well, and that I wanted to keep similar things from happening in the future.

I received a response almost immediately. And they blew me off. Like, didn’t even acknowledge a word I said.

It was a total bummer because I really wanted to do some big things with that provider, but not having confidence in how they process feedback really screwed up my confidence in them.

Dear Abby, Should I give feedback about how they received my feedback?

Why Does Any of This Matter?

To a lot of people, it won’t. Mainly I wanted to say that I’m totally open to sharing my thoughts or opinions on your strategy, product, or service, but please know that I’m going to be 100% straight with you, and it’s not because I’m a jerk (probably). It’s because I know you’re (yes you) capable of great things and I want you to be mega successful. Like, Oprah successful. And I know that you’ll never be Oprah successful without a circle of people around you who are willing to give it to you straight.

It’ll sting a little at first, but once you embrace the feedback, and learn from it, you’re going to start growing in big ways. I’m sure of it. #OprahRich

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