Most of us dislike criticism. Unless we're doing the criticizing - and then, only from a distance. Over the phone. Anonymously. Using caller ID block. Lowering our voice. With a mouthful of pennies. While hiding under a bed. In Argentina.
Let's face it, whether dishing it out or taking it, we generally avoid "your baby's ugly" conversations like a flatulent kid in a school lunch room.
Yet criticism can be gold - to people and groups and businesses who are savvy enough to open themselves up to critical evaluation. Smart people and organizations that "get it," know that the more they embrace what those voices of judgement have to say, the more they can learn, the more they can grow and the greater their potential reward can be - personal, professional, financial and spiritual.
I'm generally not one of those types who can take criticism. If somebody tells me I screwed up, I'll go hide under a bed in Argentina, and weep. Which is why I got into customer service training - "those that cry, evaluate."
Each Thursday I post a segment called "The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping." It's a secret shopping evaluation of a randomly selected Central Iowa business - like The Des Moines Register's Datebook Diner, except I don't hide behind a plate. (No offense to the great W. E. Moranville - he's better looking, I should take his lead.)
Last Thursday I posted a secret shopping evaluation of the beautiful new Homemakers Furniture store in Urbandale. The critique wasn't terribly flattering - you can read the review by clicking here. I also sent an email to Homemakers corporate, informing them of the review.
Today I received an email from Gary Strawn, Director Of Sales for Homemakers. When I saw it pop up on my Blackberry, I was a bit pensive. Homemakers is a huge company with hundreds of employees and a lot of reach - I saw the newspaper headline: "Missing customer service evaluator found crushed under sleek, stylish four piece bedroom suite from Broyhill. Police baffled." Maybe I should get a plate.
I needn't have worried. Here's the text from the email:
Thank you for the interesting and detailed report of your shopping trip to Homemakers. We really appreciated the feedback . We strive to provide a great experience to our guests, but as you can see we still have some work to do. Our goal is for our service levels to match the beauty and cleanliness of our facility. Homemakers management is dedicated to providing the best service possible . I will be using the information that you have provided to help our team. I believe that it will be good for them to see how we look through the eyes of our customers.
Again thank you for taking the time to share the feedback with us.
Director of Sales, Homemakers Furniture
Some companies just get it.
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, marketing strategist and radio show host. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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