Why is feedback so important in all business, especially small business?

written by Sarah Colgate

Business Tips for 2024 | Helpful tips for tourism operators

July 26, 2023

The short answer is, feedback provides us with an opportunity to grow, change and improve. I believe business is an evolving entity. The reason I believe is this because there are thousands of factors that make a business successful, many of them tiny little things. These can also build up and destroy a business as well. 

So, as business owners if we understand what those little factors are we can keep an eye on them, adjust and amend what we do to ensure we create a successful entity. 

The number one way to ensure we are on track with the thousands of little factors is to get feedback and give feedback and use the feedback to create, adjust and amend what we are doing in order to improve.

Feedback is essential in business for a number of reasons. 

Creating Customer Satisfaction

Feedback allows businesses to gauge customer satisfaction levels. It provides insights into whether customers are happy with the products or services being offered, their experience with the business and any areas for improvement. By asking for feedback, businesses can address customer concerns, improve their offerings and ensure higher levels of customer satisfaction, which leads to increased loyalty and repeat business.

Quality Improvement

Feedback provides valuable information about the quality of products, services and the overall business operations. It helps businesses identify the areas where they may be falling short and make necessary improvements. By analysing feedback, businesses owners can identify patterns, recurring issues and take proactive measures to enhance their quality standards. This process of continual improvement is crucial for staying competitive in the market and meeting customer expectations.

Innovation and Growth

Feedback can create opportunities for innovation and growth. It offers insights into emerging trends, changing customer preferences and new niche market opportunities. By actively seeking feedback from customers, employees, and other stakeholders, businesses can gather ideas and suggestions for new products, services, or business strategies. This feedback-driven innovation can help businesses stay ahead of the competition, diversify their offerings, and expand their market presence.

I have done this in a number of businesses. At Aquaduck in 2020, we created a sunset tour. This tour was originally meant to be a sunset cruise that picked up international customers from Seaworld Theme Park and returned them to their hotel via a cruise on the waterways with a glass of bubbly or a beer in hand. The reason we created the sunset cruises to begin with was because travel agents and tour leaders asked us how they could get customers back to their hotels in a fun way. Many have said it had been difficult to find something interesting and unique for the clients in the afternoon/evening. So I took this feedback on board and created a sunset tour, which then morphed into Secrets, Scandals and Sunsets. 

Employee Engagement and Development

Feedback is not limited to customers; it is equally important for employees as well. Providing employees with regular feedback allows them to understand their strengths and any areas for improvement, fostering their personal and professional growth. It also enables managers to provide constructive feedback, align employee goals with business objectives and foster a culture of continuous learning. Engaged and motivated employees are more likely to contribute to the overall success of the business.

So if you have employees that are not performing, look at what you need them to do, what they seem to be capable of doing and speak with them. Explain the role you need them to do and how that role fits into the  overall business,  then explain what you see them currently doing. Finally, ask them whether this is a role for them and how they see the role. You may find there is a significant difference between what you see the role doing and what they do.  By having a simple, gentle and open conversation you can provide feedback and get feedback so everyone can work together a little better.

Brand Reputation and Trust

Feedback plays a vital role in shaping a business’s brand reputation and building trust with customers. By actively addressing customer feedback, businesses demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction and their willingness to listen and act upon concerns. Positive feedback and testimonials from satisfied customers also serve as powerful marketing tools, helping to attract new customers and build a positive brand image.

So now we understand why feedback is so important in business. It can provide valuable insights into customer satisfaction, helps drive quality improvement and innovation, supports employee engagement and development, and contributes to building a stronger brand reputation with customers. So let’s embrace feedback as an opportunity to grow and create successful businesses. 

We understand how important feedback is but not everyone does especially when it doesn’t feel like feedback it feels like criticism. So let’s look at how we can provide feedback to others in a constructive and positive way. This will ensure feelings aren’t hurt and relationships are maintained.

What are constructive ways to provide feedback?

Providing constructive feedback is just as important as receiving feedback. It helps others improve their skills, grow and perform at their best. 

Here are some constructive ways to provide feedback:

  • Be specific when giving feedback. Provide specific examples of what the person did well and where they can improve. 

An example of providing feedback to a business, instead of saying: “Your customer service needs improvement.”

You could say: “I called your customer service helpline yesterday, and I had to wait on hold for over 30 minutes before I could speak to a representative. Additionally, when I finally got through, the representative seemed uninterested and didn’t provide me with a satisfactory solution to my problem. I suggest you work on reducing wait times and training your representatives to be more attentive and knowledgeable.”

In this example, the feedback is specific and provides detailed information about the issue. It highlights the specific problem (long wait times and unhelpful representatives) and suggests actionable improvements (reducing wait times, training representatives). Specific feedback like this allows the business to understand the exact areas that need improvement and take specific actions to address the concerns raised.

  • Using the “sandwich” method is a very useful option when providing feedback. Start with a positive comment, then provide constructive criticism and end with another positive comment. This approach can help the recipient feel more receptive to the feedback.

Here is an example of providing the sandwich style feedback. This is a great method especially when the recipient is close to you, important to the business or you want to develop them long term. 

Hey Helen,

I wanted to talk to you about your recent presentation. First of all, I really appreciated the effort you put into researching the topic and your clear delivery. Your presentation slides were visually engaging, and you demonstrated good knowledge of the subject matter. The examples you provided were relevant and helped clarify the points you were making. (positive) 

However, I also noticed that you spoke quite quickly, which made it a bit challenging for the audience to fully grasp some of the information. It would be helpful if you could slow down your pace a bit and allow more time for the audience to absorb the content. Additionally, I think you could further enhance your presentation by incorporating more visual aids or interactive elements to make it even more engaging.(constructive)

Overall, I believe you have great potential as a presenter, and with a few adjustments, your presentations can become even more impactful. Keep up the good work, and I’m confident that you’ll continue to improve and deliver exceptional presentations. (positive)

Let me know if you have any questions or need further guidance.

  • Be objective and stick to the facts. Avoid making personal judgments or assumptions. Personal judgements feel personal. When they are used it creates emotion and can spiral out of control quickly. Keep personal judgements out of business discussions and feedback. 
  • Focus on behaviour, not on the person you are giving feedback to. Instead of criticising the person, ensure the focus is on the specific behaviour or action that needs improvement. 
  • Offer solutions and options. Provide suggestions or alternatives for how the person can improve. This shows you are serious about the improvement required and you believe they are capable of achieving the improvements with some training, education or development. 

Dear Helen, 

During our recent performance evaluation, we discussed some areas where improvements can be made. After careful consideration, I have come up with a solution that I believe will help address the performance concerns and support your professional growth.

To enhance your sales skills, I recommend enrolling in a sales training program. There are several reputable courses available both online and in-person that can provide you with the knowledge and techniques needed to excel in this area. I have researched a few options and included them in the attached document. Please review them and let me know if any of them interest you.

  • Be timely in giving feedback. Provide feedback in a timely manner so the person can work on improving right away, don’t wait or let it build up. If you go back to someone with feedback that is months old they may have trouble accepting it or even knowing what you are talking about. Do it as soon as you possibly can so it’s fresh in everyone’s mind and can be actioned quickly. 
  • Use active listening while providing feedback. Give the person your full attention, listen actively and ask clarifying questions. Ensure the person you are providing the feedback to fully understands. 
  • Provide feedback in a private and professional environment.  Avoid giving feedback in front of others, as this can be embarrassing and unproductive. Nobody likes to receive feedback in public, that includes reviews and online comments. If you truly feel a change is needed, call them, speak in person or send a professional email communication with specific information and the opportunity for the recipient to respond in a positive way and take the opportunity to improve.

Conclusion

Providing constructive feedback is about helping others improve, not about criticising or belittling them. When done correctly, constructive feedback can be a valuable tool for personal and professional growth. Embrace it, get good at receiving and giving feedback. Improvement is a good thing personally and professionally.

You May Also Like…

What do I want to do?

What do I want to do?

Everything changes, we change, business changes, our customers change and so does everything else on the planet....