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How do clients perceive you? The importance of feedback in business

Soliciting feedback is a critical step for all businesses, but one that many skirt in fear of any negative results, but guessing at your brand’s reputation is less helpful in the long run than getting consumers’ thoughts.

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Feedback should be welcome

Many business professionals underestimate the importance of feedback and the value that it can bring to their business.

No one likes receiving criticism, but feedback, of both the positive and negative variety, can teach us a whole lot. It often serves to bring us more in-tune with our business and better understand what our clients perceive, feel, and expect.

Positive feedback frequently confirms what you’re doing is working and can be a great indicator that you’re building loyalty with clients.

Conversely, negative feedback lets you know what’s not working and gives you the opportunity to make changes and improvements that will ultimately benefit both you and your clients. As author Jack Canfield states in his book, The Success Principles, “To reach your goals more quickly, you need to welcome, receive, and embrace all the feedback that comes your way.”

Why negative feedback should be welcomed

Small businesses often avoid seeking feedback because they undervalue its importance to their business or they’re afraid of what they may hear. If you can relate, it’s essential to take a step back, change your mindset, and realize that negative feedback is something that should be welcomed and appreciated. In fact, you should ask for feedback every time you have an opportunity to do so.

When you do receive feedback, make sure you have a system in place to organize and manage the data. An industry-specific CRM is key in this regard.

Reputation survey

One great idea to better understand what clients think of you and learn how to improve is to conduct a reputation survey.

Clients many times perceive you and your business in a completely different way than you perceive it and how you think they perceive it.

You can conduct a reputation survey in a number of ways. The first is an informal approach and involves casually asking your clients for their opinion of your services during your next face-to-face interaction with them. You may want to bring up the subject by mentioning that you’re looking for ways to improve your service to clients.

Another way to collect feedback and conduct a reputation survey is formally via email, letter, or phone. Whether you choose to conduct it by email, letter, or phone, note that each one of these methods has different pros and cons, such as quality of the feedback, response times, and response levels. It’s a good idea to experiment to see which works best. A key benefit to conducting the survey formally is that people can provide feedback anonymously. And if it’s anonymous, you may get more responses and ones that are more open and candid.

There are many services, such as SurveyMonkey, that will let you create a survey for your clients to complete online. With SurveyMonkey, you can easily provide a link to your survey via email, your website, your blog, and social media sites and then analyze the results in real time.

Don’t guess your reputation

When you ask for feedback from your clients, you’re demonstrating to them that you’re committed to excellence and value constant improvement. Clients value this and will view your attempt to gain honest feedback favorably.

Don’t guess your reputation. You need to know what resonates with your clients and what you can do to provide world class service. Once you do, you’ll be well on your way to a business where clients will come back time and again and referrals will flow your way.

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Matthew Collis is part of the Sales and Marketing Team at IXACT Contact Solutions Inc., a leading North American real estate CRM firm. In addition to overseeing many of IXACT Contact’s key sales and marketing programs, Matthew works with REALTORS® to help them achieve their real estate goals through effective contact management and relationship marketing. IXACT Contact is a web-based real estate contact management and marketing system that helps REALTORS® better manage and grow their business. The system includes powerful email marketing capabilities and a professionally designed and written monthly e-Newsletter.

Business News

The sad truths you missed about the US Women’s Soccer Team lawsuit

(NEWS) The US Women’s Soccer team dominated headlines by suing for equal pay, but there was so much more to the lawsuit that could have a ripple effect in the business world.

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Recently, on International Women’s Day, the United States Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. The timing of the suit is not only a sign of the team continuing their decades long fight against the organization (only three months before they are set to defend their World Cup title in France), but a recognition of the symbol that they have become in the larger battle that women and other minorities are waging in order to be given the same resources as the men leading in their fields.

It should go without saying that the women’s soccer team is unparalleled in its athletic success: over the past twenty years they have won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. These players, as ESPN acknowledges, are among the most accomplished and best known women athletes in the world.

Their counterpart, the Men’s National Soccer Team, leaves much to be desired (they failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, for example) yet they consistently receive much more support from the US Soccer Federation.

Although the pay disparity between the USWNT and the male soccer team is certainly stark, the “gains” that the women athletes are fighting for go beyond monetary compensation.

According to Mashable, “This [suit] includes how women frequently play on a dangerous artificial surfaces when the men do not, fly commercial when the men travel by more convenient, comfortable charter flights, and the alleged allocation of fewer resources to promote women’s games compared to men’s.”

As if being the best players in your sport in the world and having to share hotel rooms after getting torn apart by the seams astroturf and receiving less-than-world-class medical care wouldn’t be infuriating enough, it’s truly this final point that highlights the glaring mistreatment of the USWNT.

Without support from the US Soccer Federation, not only in the form of payment but in promotion of their games and general good-will toward their players, the USWNT will not be able to grow their following so that they can establish a consistent revenue near what the men’s team attracts. This “lack” of revenue continues to create the chicken/egg excuse that the Federation has for not propping up the USWNT like they deserve.

It’s simply the opposite of “sportsmanship” for the US Soccer Federation to use these players’ love of playing the game (that, again, they are the best in the world at) and their country as a way to gaslight them into playing for less.

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Think about automating tasks instead of replacing workers

(BUSINESS) Automation is great, unless you obsess over it and try to cut down on payroll – there’s a smarter approach that successful businesses take.

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automating tasks not people

The concept of automating your workflow is a tempting one — especially as payroll continues to be one of the evergreen highest costs of business. However, in contemplating how to streamline your workflow, you may do better to step back from the idea of “replacing workers” and instead think about you can optimize your existing employees by strategically tweaking their workflow.

As Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau write in The Harvard Business Review, if the goal of automating is to ensure that your company is operating at its most cost effective and efficient levels, then chances are you’d still need knowledgeable employees to help you scale and capitalize.

Where automation can truly help your business is by transforming the ability of your organization to focus on the tasks that truly require a human touch or deep knowledge. For example, automation will not help your employees perform complex, interactive, or creative work like collaborating with clients to come up with solutions or designs.

However, it can help the process of brainstorming or co-designing these solutions easier by replacing some of the mechanical tasks that aid this high-level workflow.

For example, it may be helpful to automate basic research tasks for your designers. If your designers must create a client profile to help them launch their projects — basic information must surely exist at some other point in the process before this point. Maybe your firm has an intake form or contracts where a basic description of the goal of the contracted service has been created. By automating the sharing of that data between departments, perhaps in a content management system, you’d be able to free up time that the designers might spend on basic data collection so that they could instead use it for their more complex, empathetic work.

Jesuthasan and Boudreau offer up other advice for thinking about which specific tasks within your company’s workflow are the best candidates for automation.

Is a task simple? Routine? Does it require collaboration?

These kinds of inquiry are not only useful when thinking about your organizational processes, but they are good refreshers for thinking about the individual value and skills that your organization and its workers offer clients.

So instead of looking at how to cut down on payroll, consider automation as an option to improve the value you’re getting from your team, and freeing them from mind-numbing tasks that have nothing to do with their expertise. Win-win!

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Megabrand, Amazon failing to support their working parent employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Policies are changing at American companies to be up to par in supporting parents, but Amazon, despite being one of the most profitable companies in history, is not one of the evolving brands.

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Households in which both parents work is so much the norm in this country that we rarely ask new mothers if they’ll go back to work knowing it’s only a matter of when they’ll go back to work.

And once new mothers re-enter the workplace, the expectation of their time rarely changes to account for their new status as working mothers. Schedules change and so do childcare needs.

However, some progressive companies are changing their policies to accommodate their employees’ need for childcare, but Amazon isn’t one of them. Yet.

Dubbing themselves the Momazonians, a group of working mothers at Amazon is demanding that the online retail giant provide a back-up childcare benefit.

Back-up child care, for the uninitiated, is a perk that offers workers access to subsidized care for the times when school is closed, reliable childcare is temporarily unavailable, or in the event of sickness or emergency.

Why is this important? For starters, women who return to work shortly after giving birth are often left feeling unsupported and burdened by their choice to continue their careers instead of feeling empowered to enter into the next chapter or phase of their career.

Some companies believe that babies just aren’t good for business and once a woman makes the choice to expand her family, she’s often passed over for promotions or thought to no longer prioritize her career. Of course, these companies are wrong and that’s why it’s important for working mom’s to feel empowered to make their voices heard.

Will the Momazonians make any headway in getting the help they deserve? Time will tell.

They’ll be meeting in the next few weeks in an attempt to make a deal. However, whether or not Amazon complies with their demands, it’s worth thinking about for companies pondering parental policies in the future. As more and more millennials are marrying and having children later in life and thus further along in their careers, it would behoove companies to offer more flexible benefits to families. While it may seem cheaper to hire entry-level employees, in the long run, it’s more cost effective to hold onto experienced workers.

What’s more, while it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to have it all, companies could make it easier to at least manage work-life balance better. When you offer mothers and fathers flex-time and work-from-home benefits, or even subsidized care, you are purchasing peace of mind and a peace-filled mind is a productive one.

Any woman who has gone back to work knows the hardest part of their day is dropping off their new little one in someone else’s care so why not make these transitions easier if it means holding on to experience? In the long term, it leads to employee retention. Children aren’t children forever and if they’re parents are offered support, those parents will probably perform better.

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