Companies that want to be successful often look to customer praise and competitor admiration as validation of their efforts and as an impetus for improvement. However, the question of how to use negative reviews should be explored as well, since it’s true in all walks of life that we often learn best from failure and mistakes. Here are some valuable ways of becoming aware of an organization’s limitations as motivation for future enhancements.
Although some companies question whether the customer is always right, the fact is that customers offer a helpful perspective on what is not working effectively within the business. From waiting on telephone hold too long to sky-high pricing, customers and clients provide glimpses into the consumer mindset about what might need to be tweaked to give a better customer experience. Online reviews or customer service department complaints can be mined for thoughtful feedback on how a company can improve its services, although keep in mind that not all reviews are helpful; general trends are more likely to guide you in the right direction.
When two or more employees complain about a company policy or rule, it’s time to reexamine the rule to ensure it is clear and fair to all. Sometimes the language may need to be clarified, or doesn’t fit with company culture. Other rules may merely become outdated, such as those about an office dress code. Invite employees to share their concerns through a complaint box or an email discussion board. Negative comments, unless disrespectful, should not cause backlash or discrimination to the employee, but rather a courteous thank-you for sharing a pressing concern.
If you work out of a physical, brick-and-mortar location, then you may have experienced safety concerns and near misses on your property. If employees and customers have complained about the pavement in your parking lot or about structural issues inside your property, then it’s wise to fix them now before injury occurs. Under premises liability law, property owners have a responsibility to keep their property safe—or at least warn against potential danger. Take steps now to minimize potential dangers on your property. This will improve your business image and protect you against future liability suits.
Sometimes a training class does not go as planned. It might be that an external trainer does not fully understand the company’s culture or the issues being dealt with. Other times, employees can be resistant to change and reluctant to embrace new policies and goals. These situations provide valuable opportunities to discuss employees’ emotions and concerns so that the company can adjust its approach if necessary, or provide employees the necessary support and incentives for embracing change, which will increase employee retention.
Whether a company sells products or services, it is a good idea to solicit customer feedback about goods or services received. Product feedback is an invaluable resource for companies. This can be done anonymously by return postcard or online via the company website. Showing interest in improving the product will impress customers build confidence in the company as well as possibly generate more sales.
If you don’t personally track your business’ spending, when was the last time you looked a nice close look at your finances? Chances are, it’s been a while. Going through your spending reports can give you some unique insight into potential trouble areas for the future. Organize the data and look for trends. How much are you spending on utilities? How much are you spending on product development? Are you staying well within budget? How many times have you had to dip into emergency funds? Once you’ve looked at the data, ask yourself how you can improve. To use utilities as an example, you may wish to reduce your utility bill. Investing in energy-saving devices could help make room in your budget for more comfortable growth.
Negative criticism can render positive results if used productively for company enrichment. Look for ways to encourage customer feedback, including critical comments.