• Service Performance Group

Turning criticism into profit

Years ago, I read a book on improving customer service, “A Complaint is a Gift: Using Customer Feedback as a Strategic Tool” by Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller. The thrust of the book is how to take criticism and rather than sloughing it off, using it to your benefit.

Handling a complaint or criticism with grace can be difficult. Often, we are too ego-sensitive to view criticism to improve our product, process, or ourselves. Accepting criticism requires that as an individual or a company we dig deep and ask if we have really done our best. Is this the best product that we can provide? Is our service really the best that we can provide? Often, we do not like to consider these questions because we may not like the answer.


Yet, accepting criticism and/or constructive feedback is key for improvement. We cannot improve upon what we choose to ignore or measure.


Imagine you just opened a bakery, and an employee mistakenly added too much sugar to the signature dessert that you have spent half of your advertising budget promoting. Perhaps you were so busy that morning that you did not see anyone actually eat one and thus didn’t see the look of surprise or distaste when they took that first bite. Certainly, you would hope that someone would let you know of your mistake rather than simply leaving and ‘passing the word’ on your dessert! Wouldn’t you so appreciate a customer letting you know that something is wrong no matter how they chose to tell you?

It is important to keep an open mind to criticism. Perfection is the goal but it’s the path you choose to take that will determine how close to perfection you or your company will come.

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