Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Lessons from a Muddy Lettuce

Lettuce Laundrette

I had a chuckle when I received a veg box from Abel & Cole last week. Among the onions, carrots and cabbage was a white card, about the size of a business card. Sometimes they add a card to tell you they've added a free lemon or mince pie so I read it with interest. Here it is:
I wondered what could have prompted the note and concluded that someone had probably complained about their lettuce being a bit muddy in the past.

What kind of person would complain about a muddy lettuce? Lettuces grow in the ground, right? Surely is a bit of mud is only to be expected on real food that has pushed through real earth, been warmed by real sun and watered by real water?

Choose Option 4

It made me wonder what had happened in the Abel & Cole workplace as the complaint was received. Did they laugh? Shake their heads in disbelief? Feel outraged (as I did) about the unreasonableness of people? Whatever they did behind closed doors, they moved swiftly to action.
In my experience, there are four reactions to feedback:

  1. Ignore and hope everyone else forgets about it
  2. Deny, deflect, defend and then destroy all evidence of it
  3. Ingest it, focus on the worst bits, worry about it. Then follow steps 1 & 2
  4. Take it, own it, do something about it
Abel & Cole chose option 4. This, among other reasons, is why they are one of my role model businesses* (see more on this soon!)

So what?

It can feel uncomfortable or even insulting when someone criticises our business, our department or our service. We can take things personally and react with emotion (options 1, 2 and 3 above).

Perhaps you’ve found yourself turning it back on the complainant? This is just one person in 100 or 1000, who cares? They are being overly nit picky and unreasonable.

Once our emotional reaction has subsided, it's time to look for the nugget of truth that will improve your business (option 4).

One truth is that this customer, client or partner expected more from you. So ask yourself:
  • Which personal values were being triggered in my emotional reaction to this feedback? 
  • What did this person expect that was not satisfied? (ignoring whether that expectation was realistic) 
  • What would my business look like if I delivered this expectation every time? 
  • What immediate action honours my personal values? 
  • What action will mititgate against this feedback in future? 

Nuggets of Truth (Or the Mud on Your Lettuce)

Those nuggets of truth could stop complaints in the future. They could even be what sets you apart from your competitors and brings you even greater happiness and success.

As Bill Gates said, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."

I’d love to hear your customer feedback stories!

*and to make it even better, they sent me a copy of the note within 24 hours of my email request so I could use it here! Top banana!

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