Seeking Critics

Everyone likes praise and nearly no one likes criticism. If you have a business, pay attention to this allocation because the weighting of “like” is exactly backwards. Learn to love the criticism.

For a business, there is a reason to acquire this love.

A customer who complains (offers criticism) is helping you. All customers are, to some extent, your quality control department. You would need to spend a good deal of money to get a quality control department that had as diverse a set of standards and could perform as many tests as customers and here we have it offered to us for free. Most people reject it.

Have the wit to accept the gift. Learn to accept the advice; act on what you can and explain what you cannot.

I was briefly involved with a restaurant; a form of business that easily generates complaints. One of the old hands told me two important things.

  1. You make your money a penny at a time
  2. For every customer who criticizes your efforts, there are 25 more, just as unsatisfied, who do not. The other 25 will be unlikely to return.

I know of a case where a manufacturer, who on pointing out that he could buy the equivalent amount of product from a supplier by purchasing 40 little packages instead of one big one was told by an order clerk, “We don’t need your help to run this business.” It appears there is no limit to dumb. He bought 120 little packages to help them toward oblivion.

For those who cannot handle critics, learn the skill. Seek and encourage complaints. Teach your staff to seek and communicate complaints to you. Thank the complainer for their time and trouble.

You will learn little from what you do right, but you can learn a great deal from your shortcomings.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. | Twitter @DonShaughnessy | Follow by email at moneyFYI

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