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“Feedback is the breakfast of Champions” -Ken Blanchard

 

I love to eat out, whether I’m at at a high end restaurant or a roadside food cart.

Yesterday I visited a new pub and from the moment I walked through the door I loved what I saw, smelled, and heard.

I asked my server to bring me her favorite item on the menu, which turned out to be a rib-eye steak.  I ordered it medium-rare and began drooling in anticipation.  But when the food arrived, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment.  My steak was well done.  Really, well done.

A short time later the server stopped by to ask how my meal was, and I told her about the steak.  She apologized, took my food away, and promised to return soon with what I had requested.

Meanwhile, the manager stopped by to apologize and thank me, and he truly was thankful.  As he put it, if people don’t complain, the restaurant can’t correct the issue.  The restaurant wants you to be happy, and they want your return business.

Your business is no different.  You should welcome client complaints.  When you know what’s not working, you can fix it, but if your clients are unhappy and you don’t know, you’ll probably loose them and other clients who are experiencing the same issues.

Yes, hearing your clients complain can be difficult and sometimes a blow to our ego, but if you’re truly committed to serving your clients, the information you’ll gain is invaluable.  Simply think of complaints as feedback that will help you, your business, and your clients.

How can you encourage feedback?

Let’s face it, some people are too shy to send their steak back.  They don’t want to offend you.

Use these three strategies to encourage feedback:

1. Design An Alliance

When you begin working with a client, design an alliance.  In other words, establish the ground rules by which you’ll work with your client.  What are the things you need to have in place to do your best work?  What does your client want or need to get the most out of the relationship.

As part of this designed alliance, ask your client to be up front about anything that’s not working.  Let them know that your primary goal is to serve them, and to do that you need to know what may not be working in the relationship.

2. Ask

From time to time, be forward and ask your clients what isn’t working.  Let them know that you love working with them, but always strive to improve.  Ask how you can improve your working relationship.

Many clients will let you know when things are going well, but won’t share openly when there is a problem.  When a client gives you positive feedback, that’s the perfect opportunity to ask what could be improved upon.

3. Watch For Changes

Oftentimes a client’s behavior will change if there’s a problem.  If you notice a client is rescheduling your meetings frequently, showing up late, or being less engaged than usual, that could be a sign of problems.  Ask them what’s up.  Perhaps there are other reasons for their actions, but if there is any issue, you want the opportunity to correct it.

 

Like the thorn in the elephants foot, a small issue can have a big impact on your business.  Don’t let issues fester.  Addressing them head on can often turn a negative into a positive for your client.

Don’t be so naive to believe that there are no issues in your business.  Encourage complaints.  Your business will benefit from them.

Oh, and by the way, the second steak they brought me was incredible.  And, they discounted my bill and threw in a dessert.  The restaurant turned my complaint into a positive experience, and I’ll definitely be back.

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