By Jackie Stapleton
Who else freaks out when they walk past their scales in the bathroom? Who else tries to ignore them? After all, if we don’t know how much we weigh, then we don’t need to do anything about it right? What we don’t know doesn’t hurt us!
I used to be like this until one day I had a lightbulb moment. Standing on the scales is just feedback. It’s an opportunity to learn and understand whether what we have been doing is working or beneficial for ourselves, our bodies, and our minds.
Once I realised this, it wasn’t scary standing on the scales. For instance, if I stand on the scales and I am lighter than the previous ‘weigh in’ my feedback is “Great work Jackie, the work you’ve been doing is paying off – keep it up”. And if I stand on the scales and I am heavier than the previous ‘weigh in’ my feedback is “ok, good effort, obviously you’ve gone a little off track but that’s ok, we can see that now and what we need to do to get back on track”.
As soon as I realised this difference I wasn’t scared anymore. I didn’t get down on myself and now just look at the results on the scales as feedback – it’s not a weight, it’s not defining me, it’s feedback – as simple as that. If I want to improve then I take this feedback on board with an open mind and take action and make different choices. It is all in my hands to make these changes.
Standing on the Scales is much like collecting feedback from your customers. Don’t be afraid, don’t hide from the truth. Ask for it openly at every opportunity you get. Don’t take it personally, this is an opportunity to grow. At Auditor Training Online our students provide the best improvement opportunities with their feedback. Why wouldn’t they? They are our ideal clients. They know what they want and what they expect so we need to listen to them and not be afraid.
ISO 9001:2015 Quality management systems includes clause 9.1.2 Customer Satisfaction where it states that the organization is to monitor customers’ perceptions of the degree to which their needs and expectations have been fulfilled.
In the Forbes article The 10 Best Examples of Proactive Customer Feedback, the author, Blake Morgan (Customer Experience Futurist), shares that proactive customer feedback continually improves the product and experience, reducing future customer service calls, building a stronger reputation, and improving revenue. Research from Microsoft found that 77% of customers view brands more favourably if they seek out and apply customer feedback.
Strategic Improvement Loop for Excellence (SMILE)
Just as I experienced that pivotal moment of truth with the bathroom scales, turning my apprehension into a proactive view of feedback, in business we must also shift our perspective to see customer feedback as a proactive force.
Our model below illustrates this transformative journey, where, instead of fearing the scales of customer opinion, we step on willingly, using the weight of their words to fine-tune our services and elevate our business performance.
Proactive Customer Feedback: The cycle begins with actively seeking out the opinions, preferences, and criticisms of customers. This step involves creating opportunities for feedback through surveys, comment cards, direct conversations, and other engagement channels. It sets the stage for a responsive and customer-focused business strategy.
Analyzing Feedback: Once feedback is collected, it’s thoroughly analyzed to identify trends, common themes, and areas for improvement. This step converts raw data into actionable insights. Analysis can reveal what’s working well and what needs to be adjusted to better meet customer expectations.
Implementing Changes: Informed by the analysis, specific changes are planned and executed. This could involve product adjustments, service enhancements, or process improvements. Implementing changes demonstrates to customers that their feedback is valued and has a direct impact on the business.
Measuring Impact: After changes are made, their impact on customer satisfaction and business outcomes is measured. This could be through follow-up surveys, sales figures, customer retention rates, or other relevant metrics. Measuring ensures that the implemented changes are effectively meeting the intended goals.
Responding to the Customer: With the results in hand, businesses communicate back to customers about the changes made based on their feedback. This transparency fosters trust and shows a commitment to customer satisfaction. It also encourages ongoing engagement, as customers see that their input leads to tangible results.
This loop doesn’t end with the response; instead, it circles back to gathering proactive customer feedback, creating a dynamic and ongoing process of improvement. By continually cycling through these steps, businesses can maintain a strong alignment with customer needs and drive sustained growth.
Each step of this SMILE cycle is critical, and the loop ensures that customer feedback is not a one-time checkbox but a perpetual element of business strategy.