Picture yourself in this scenario: You’re at a brand new restaurant in your town, the atmosphere is on-point, the server is friendly and efficient, and by the looks of it, the menu has the potential for a great dinner.
While you’re excited about your meal, you can’t help but notice how long it's taking. The server reads your anticipation and apologizes, but you shrug it off and blame your hunger.
Luckily, your food comes out of the kitchen shortly after. It looks okay, but you remind yourself that not every restaurant has a culinary artist as you take your first bite. It’s not awful, but it definitely doesn’t live up to the expectations the menu and server had made.
You quietly finish your meal and wait for the server to bring your check. As she drops it off, she asks if you enjoyed your meal. You smile politely and tell her it was great. After all, you think to yourself, it’s not her fault.
How often do you order food and whether your meal turns out to be mediocre, or just plain awful, your feedback indicates otherwise? I’m not advising restaurant guests to send back every dish they think is unacceptable, but we could all stand to be a little more honest in these situations.
Very often, restaurants are unable to adjust because people aren't giving them proper feedback. Even worse than zero feedback is diffusing a bad situation because you feel too awkward, to tell the truth. Feedback is vital to growth and prosperity.
Many business shutdowns occur because of a lack of feedback communications. 60% of restaurants do not make it past the first year, and 80% go under in five years.
Feedback needs to be given and received to effectively lead to alterations. It's just like an annual employee performance review; employees are able to make the adjustments their boss recommends.
Some businesses don't have that advantage. Therefore, they need their customers to be honest and tell them the truth about their products and services. For example, customers engage with our company through multiple contacts-- their account manager, their trainer, the support team and social media.
We fully expect our customers to provide us with their honest thoughts through these mediums, no matter if its good or bad. This way, we can make the necessary adjustments to fulfill customer expectations.
Give feedback that explains the entire situation, so the proper parties can see where corrections need to be made. Feedback, as stated above, doesn’t need to be all praise and compliments, but it also shouldn’t be a roast.
Don’t be vague. When giving positive reviews people often fall into the grade school coach persona, saying “Good job!” and “Great work!” without any further details explaining why.
In a leadership position, giving feedback to an employee needs to be specific to actual aspects of their performance. Ambiguity is worthless.
Instead of: “You’re a valuable member of our team.”
Try: “You have excellent communication and time management skills. I can trust you to be responsible for multiple projects at once. Your work on Project X was especially noteworthy. Stay on this track.”
Be honest if it sucked: Remember, just as a restaurant wants to please its customers, a business wants to please its clients. If an employee is ruining the company’s reputation, the owner or manager has the right to know. Use constructive criticism; start out with a compliment and end with a suggestion.
Instead of: “Worst customer service I’ve ever experienced. Discontinuing my service immediately.”
Try: “I just called the customer service line. The employee was very rude and made no attempt to solve my problem. I suggest that your HR department listen to our recorded conversation and coach your CS team on how to treat customers.”
Taking feedback is much more difficult than dishing it out, for obvious reasons. None of us want to hear anything negative about our own products, services, and efforts. When receiving feedback, keep in mind that in order to become better, you need information about what you're doing wrong.
Be open: Instead of getting defensive, put yourself in the shoes of the person giving the critique. More likely than not, you’ll agree with them when you see their side of the argument. If it makes sense, make the modification.
Be smart: Not everyone’s opinion will be beneficial to the success of your company. Learn to weed out the poor critiques. If it’s a personal opinion, (i.e. “Your sandwiches have crust. I like my bread without crusts.”), thank them for their opinion, but brush it aside.
Today, user review sites like ‘Yelp,’ ‘Capterra,’ and ‘Angie’s List’ make it easier than ever to avoid face-to-face confrontation when giving feedback. And if that’s not enough, Digital signage implementations in businesses make it possible to write reviews while on site.
Restaurants with digital signage can integrate a survey or suggestion box application that allows customers to send their opinions directly to the manager's inbox.
A company’s net promoter score is an extremely important portion of running a business. It marries external and internal communications, creating a universally accepted standard. Feedback should be taken very seriously.
Receiving it can be difficult, but the ultimate improvements will be worth the discomfort. Just keep in mind that if you don’t properly explain your opinion in a way that justifies fine-tuning the business, your feedback won’t mean anything.