Receiving feedback is an essential part of self-improvement and in the customer service world improvement and growth are a must. Feedback can help cultivate certain behaviors and bring awareness to the things that need work. In theory, feeback is a great opportunity for change. In reality it can be a scary thing for people.
How to get better at receiving feedback and, more importantly, implementing it like a pro? We have a few tips we’d like to share that are useful when the time comes to harness the power of feedback.
Why Is Receiving Feedback Important?
Feedback has gotten a bad rep due to the common fear that receiving it means something is wrong. With such a negative connotation, it’s no wonder the thought of getting feedback, let alone asking for it directly, causes some anxiety. In fact, a recent Forbes study revealed that 12% of the population has a strong fear of feedback. But in order for growth to happen, feedback is necessary.
Receiving feedback presents a perfect opportunity to share viewpoints, discuss progress and identify areas of improvement. It helps people get on the same page, which is important because our assumptions on how things should be done aren’t always right.
If you know where you stand, you’re able to use what you’ve learned and take action as you see fit.
Being open to receiving feedback is also a great way to strengthen communication. Having solid communication with employees, customers, etc. also helps to build honest relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone needs to share every personal thought or detail, just that they feel welcome and comfortable.
When people are comfortable coming to you, you’re more likely to receive the truth versus a sugar coated version—which defeats the whole purpose of receiving any feedback at all.
Someone being upfront with us about expectations or progress might sound daunting, but it’s an underutilized self-awareness tool. When used properly it opens the door for reflection and can be the extra dose of motivation needed to reach the next step in a personal or career journey.
In order for you to make the most of your next feedback session, whether it be a formal review or a casual customer email, we’ve put together some tips on how to best receive feedback and use it to your benefit.
Accepting and Implementing Feedback
1. Don’t Make It Difficult For People To Give You Feedback
First and foremost, make it easy for people to give you feedback. Feedback wouldn’t be as powerful if it only focused on the positive and skipped over the areas of improvement. No one wants to hear criticism about themselves but no matter what’s said, it’s always better to handle things with grace than lash out.However, in case you did, apology might be in place.
This means no playing the blame game or making excuses. Take responsibility when necessary and focus on actively listening versus becoming defensive and emotional. Try not to see critiques as a sign of failure but instead use it as fuel to better yourself.
We can’t be good at everything initially and if you’re dealing with a respected person, it’s highly doubtful they’ve intended their feedback to be hurtful.
Of course, sometimes feedback isn’t delivered in the prettiest package. For example, when a frustrated customer let’s you know what they really think about your business. As tough as it may be, that’s when it’s even more important to take a step back from any emotional reactions and just listen.
Maybe the delivery wasn’t the best, but that frustrated person still might have valuable feedback. And in the case that they don’t, this at least demonstrates your ability to remain cool, calm and professional under pressure.
2. Determine Whether Or Not The Feedback Is Helpful
This is where you get honest with yourself. After receiving feedback, it’s important to take the time to review it. Even though the person giving feedback may be well meaning, what they’re telling you might not resonate. It’s important to take time to think about whether or not the information you’ve received can be put to constructive use or if it’s simply an opinion based off the giver’s emotions and experiences.
Let’s use the frustrated customer from the example in step one for instance. Their email lands in your inbox and you find that out that they’re totally unhappy with your product. They list off a few reasons why and let you know a few things that would have made the product better. Perhaps a new feature or more guidance from customer support on how to fix their issues.
If what they suggested will positively impact your business as a whole—like giving your customer service department more resources to effectively troubleshoot products—it could be worthwhile to consider putting together a plan of action.
On the other hand, maybe their feedback isn’t feasible or relevant at the moment and could be used later down the line. Or maybe just isn’t useful at all.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what you do with any feedback you receive. Just because someone is giving it to you doesn’t mean it’s always what’s best for you.
3. Put Together A Plan And Take Action
The secret to making the most of feedback is use it constructively. After the evaluation stage, it’s time to put things into motion.
Where can you go from here with the information you just received? What are the steps you can take to implement change or improve upon what you’re already doing well? These are all questions to ask following a feedback session, formal or not.
Let’s say you’ve recently been told that your response time to emails could be quicker. Instead of adding ‘respond to emails faster’ to your to-do list and hoping for the best, lay out a detailed plan of action for yourself. Maybe that means setting aside a designated time each day to respond to all priority emails. Do whatever works best for you, just remember the important part is getting clear on how to make progress.
In a way feedback is like a roadmap for improvement, but without scouting the route to your destination, you won’t get very far.
4. Use Feedback For Continual Improvement
Highly successful people know there’s always room to grow. As the influential Bill Gates once said, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
Be open to acknowledging areas of improvement and take an active part in your growth by asking questions, experimenting often and remaining curious. Don’t be afraid to ask those whose feedback you value most (IE: your loyal customer) how you’re doing along the way. It can be as simple as an email, phone call, or short pointed survey.
Some questions to continually ask that inspire change are:
- What are common complaints or criticism received?
- What do people love about your business?
- What could change or improve about your business, products, or services based on feedback?
- Did I meet or exceed your expectations?
- Would you recommend my products/services?
Most importantly, don’t forget to thank people for their feedback, especially when it’s helped improve things. We all love a little recognition.
When used constructively, feedback can motivate us to continually improve upon how we do things. It shines light on the things we could be doing more efficiently and gives us the opportunity to listen to other perspectives. Even if it comes in the form of a critique find the lesson in your feedback and use that propel your business forward.