“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” We’ve all heard this particular “golden rule”. Maybe it was a teacher, a parent, a sibling, or even better, learned from Bambi like so many other life lessons. It’s a good rule. Growing up, I’m sure keeping this mantra in my head kept me out of plenty of trouble. But what Bambi and Thumper didn’t teach us is that sometimes we have to speak up to encourage change or to right a wrong and it’s not always something “nice” that we have to say.
Today, I bend the golden rule just a little on a regular basis. I’m a huge proponent of feedback and even though speaking up about a bad service experience might be hurtful to someone, if no one ever speaks up, how do we learn? Now I may provide feedback to retailers, restaurants and service providers all of the time, but what gets frustrating is how few companies actually respond. Even with the massive amount of online communication and collaboration opportunities available today, a disturbingly large number of companies seem to be comfortable staying with the status quo rather than listening to and working with their customers to provide better service.
Recently, however, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see changes made in products from Microsoft, based on customer feedback. Working in an office full of computer techs, the new XBOX One game console has been a recurring topic around the water cooler. Their initial announcement about the console was pretty controversial, requiring the system to “check in” online at least once every 24 hours to be used in order to verify licensing. As this article outlines, Microsoft not only listened to and interacted with their customers, they made significant changes to a major product release based on their feedback. And it isn’t the only major change that Microsoft has made of late. Even their flagship operating platform, Windows 8, is undergoing some revisions in Windows 8.1 based on customer feedback. (For those of you that have ventured on to Windows 8, yes, they are bringing back the Start button.)
Any business, big small or in between can learn some valuable lessons from Microsoft’s response and changes to some pretty outspoken criticism.
-Make it easy for your customers to provide feedback. Whether you have a submission form on your website, leverage social media or simply have some comment cards on your front counter. Providing this opportunity for your customers will not only allow you to learn from their experiences, but also help your customers to feel involved and heard.
-Respond to the feedback that you receive. It’s important to recognize the feedback you receive from customers, positive and negative. Remember that most people will share or respond to a negative experience but very few consumers go the extra mile to tell you that they are happy. Take a moment to thank them for their positive comments and let them know how much it’s appreciated. On the flip side, the only thing that’s worse than not knowing about a problem, is knowing about it and not doing anything about it. Some concerns don’t have an obvious solutions, but just recognizing the problem and acknowledging it can be a big help.
-Don’t be afraid to make changes. It couldn’t have been easy for Microsoft’s developers to see stacks of angry posts and negative reactions pile up regarding thier efforts. And it had to be even harder for them to make concessions on their work. But they did. They listened to their customers and reacted accordingly. Conversely, they didn’t budge on core values. While Windows 8.1 did bring back a few key features, they stood firm on the core philosophy, layout and feel behind Windows 8.
Opening your business up to customer feedback in a more active way can be a little bit daunting, but without it, how can we know where we excel and where we fall short in our businesses? In the end, it’s a great way to learn, grow, evolve and remind your customers why they shop at a local independent pharmacy and not a big box store.
Tell me below, what things do you do in your pharmacy to collect and respond to customer feedback? Do you have any stories of how you dealt with a customer’s feedback and the changes you made in response?