My family and I moved into a new house about a year ago – well, new to us, anyway; it was built in the 1950s – and the previous owners were very open with us about the fact that a number of applicances were on their last legs.
They weren’t kidding. The washing machine didn’t even make it to the closing date. Its demise was followed closely by that of the dishwasher and the oven (which fortunately hung through the big-cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays). The refrigerator is still with us, but it’s been making this ominous banging noise that suggests its remaining days are numbered.
All of this is to say that we have gotten intimately acquainted with the Sears home appliance delivery team in recent months. For the most part, the guys they’ve sent over have been great. Which is good, because it seems that their continued employment is hanging in the balance of what kind of evaluation I submit online. One told me in so many words that “You give me a 5 [on a scale of 1 to 5], I get to keep my job.”
It’s not just Sears that’s operating this way these days, either. I got the above note stapled to my receipt after a recent shopping expedition. Meaning: We want your feedback…but only if you have great things to say about us.
I know most of us have an unfortunate tendency to complain to the world when an experience is bad and keep things relatively quiet when an experience is good. But the only useful feedback is honest feedback.
You’re not going to learn information that will help you improve if you’re not open to hearing what people really think. You’re also going to have your staff on pins and needles all the time, living in terror of a negative comment. Finally, your customers don’t appreciate having their arms twisted to say things they may not really feel.
This is no way to run a business. Your goal is not fake praise, but genuine excellence.
By all means, solicit feedback from your families (and your staff, for that matter) on a regular basis. Publicize your glowing testimonials to the world. And welcome negative feedback for the true gift it is: The opportunity to correct a problem and make your terrific center even better.
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