Take Criticism Seriously But Not Personally

Hilary Clinton was in Dublin yesterday.  She met our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and our President Michael D. Higgins.  One of her other engagements was to give a speech at a meeting of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).


According to the Irish Times, she said that “one of the most important things she had learned in politics was to take criticism seriously but not personally”.  And she was also quoted as saying that “oftentimes your critic can turn out to be your best friend”.  Now the context of her comments was freedom of expression on the internet.  But what she said is entirely applicable to business too.


A lot of work I do involves helping companies find out what their customers are thinking.  I do this using a variety of methodologies – including interviews, online surveys & focus groups.


Independent though of the methodology used, a common outcome of this work is that companies hear negative opinions from their customers.  This can be difficult for some clients to take – they can get upset and even defensive – and even sometimes seek to rationalise to me (but I suspect largely to themselves) why the customer is wrong.


But what I always stress is that negative feedback that you hear is a lever – a lever that can drive a company forward.


If every metric is coming back saying you’re perfect that may be good for your ego – but what help is it to your business?  None.   What are you going to do differently if that happens?  Nothing.


That’s an extreme case – but I’m just using it to make a point.  If every metric comes back with a perfect score then something is wrong with the research – because no company delivers perfect customer service!


Negative feedback is a glass half-full.  It offers companies data that can be used to decide on ways to drive the company forward.  If this is of interest to you get in touch and we’ll see what can be done for your company!


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