Reflections on Feedback

I would presume that the purpose of feedback is to find ways to improve. If not, what is it all about? It’s not just a form, a process, or a department. Feedback is to help deliver optimal results. Feedback – the giving and receiving of it is a reflection of quality. The last few weeks that went by brought home to me the importance of asking for and giving feedback in truly helpful ways.

Earning from feedback. “What oil would you like us to use today? We have three different kinds on offer. Would you like to smell them?…”. This was before heading into a spa. I chose one called ‘detox’. When I finished, there was someone who came and asked me if I would like some jasmine tea or if I would prefer lemongrass. I chose Jasmine. And a gentle inquiry while I was sipping on my tea about how I had enjoyed the therapy made for a wonderful overall experience. (The core offering is the therapy delivered and the infrastructure, hot water, towels, cleanliness, etc., being really good). I felt like I had a choice. I felt looked after well. I will renew my membership.

Now let me share a different experience I had with feedback in another spa (on another day). When I walked in someone handed me a form to fill in. Which I did. Nobody read it (so I am not sure why I had to fill it in other than to possibly protect them from liability, which the fine print covered). Nobody checked what oil I would like and when I finished there was no offer of tea. I walked out unnoticed. The feedback system that the first spa had put in place made all the difference. Both had good core offerings and equally good infrastructure. One made me feel cared for and the other made me feel like a sales target had been delivered. I am unlikely to go back.

Learning from feedback. A client I was working with parted ways. I waited for the right moment and then sought an opportunity to meet to understand any feedback that could help me learn from the experience. It was a very educational experience for me. I learnt a lot about what was done well, and where the experience delivered fell short. More importantly, a relationship was nurtured. It was an hour well spent and our paths remain connected. A chapter ends but the story continues. The feedback loop helped keep the circle of trust.

A flight that I was on was turbulent throughout the journey. “We could not serve you a hot beverage since the seat belt sign has been on and we will be landing soon, would you like to have any other beverage?” Yes, please juice would be nice. If they had not asked, I would have felt cheated. Because they asked me, I felt the airline cared. Till then I felt they were not bothered. They asked me what I wanted and they did not take me for granted.

Too much of anything can be bad – even feedback has its limits. A new car I bought has had me badgered for feedback. First, the dealership called. I told them I was travelling and could not speak. They sent me an online form to fill in, which I did. Then they called again. I told them I already filled it in. The. A company representative called. I told them that I had already given feedback. They explained that was collected by the dealer and they wanted their independent feedback. I told them to back off. It felt all about them and their need for feedback and their need to get a good rating. It in no way made me feel cared for or cared about. I know the caller was just “doing their job” and I felt bad for biting their head off on the 5th call.

Reflections on feedback. Giving feedback is important and I tell myself I must do better next time. The way I seek feedback and the way I give feedback is a reflection on me and my organisation. I must be mindful to always seek to serve and serve well. With this intention, feedback will always be beneficial. Ask yourself about your experience with feedback. How can you improve it?

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. The most important lesson of all. Feedback is just the beginning of the process, not the end. What you do with the feedback is the real game changer.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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