Critics Are Your Best Friend


Critics are your best CustomersWe talk with a lot of business owners about the benefits of getting customer feedback. While there is no disagreement in general, there is frequently the question about how to handle negative feedback. Personally, I am intrigued with the psychology of focusing on feedback that happens so infrequently, since a successful business is clearly doing a lot of things right.

Coincidentally, we at Bizyhood had the opportunity to experience this first hand recently ourselves. As many of you know, we recently rolled out a significant update to the Bizyhood website. We split our site into two – one site for consumers and one site for business owners. This required significant effort and testing, a major undertaking by the Bizyhood engineering team. Once we launched the new site, we waited for any “show stopper” issues, but none came. We had a successful rollout.

However, a few days after the launch we received several support emails from the same customer. It turns out that she had a less than ideal experience on our site and she was not shy about sharing her feelings! Each email from her contained increasing frustration, she was clearly not happy with her experience on our new website.

As I read these emails personally, my first reaction was to get defensive. We had just worked really hard delivering a new site out we were being attacked?! I reminded myself that it’s always great to live through these things directly so you can truly empathize with your customers when they go through the same thing. Fortunately, that feeling didn’t last long at all, and we went through the process of examining her feedback and making sure we understood everything she was sharing with us.

It turns out that a few of the issues were simple misunderstandings – we can (and will!) make the on-boarding process to Bizyhood easier to understand so these types of issues don’t continue. However, one of the issues she highlighted was a bug in our system. It prevented users from doing something fairly important that we’d like them to be able to do. We did not catch this bug during our testing. In addition, I had personally suggested to a few business owners that they follow steps that would have led them to this bug! If any of these businesses had followed my instructions, they would have had the same problem.

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Did these other customers not follow our instructions at all? Or did they follow them, run into the bug, and just stop there without telling us? It made me realize that our frustrated customer with the sarcastic email was actually a better customer than the others! She cared enough to tell us she had a bad experience, which gave us the opportunity to fix it.

This may sound simple, but it’s a deep and profound concept. Think about the number of problems you have with businesses that you just “let slide”. They do have an impact on your thinking of that business, and whether you will continue using them as much, or at all. As a business owner, it’s always better to find out how your customers are feeling and urge them to be open and honest with their thoughts. Many of our friends and fans will apologize before telling me something they don’t like about the site, or my blog posts, or something else associated with Bizyhood. I keep telling them not to be sorry! Feedback makes us better. And if you do the same with your business, it will make you better too.

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