Why I don’t like giving feedback

Giving feedback is so little of the time about me.

First world problem. “Nobody’s listening to me, nobody cares about my pain, blah blah.” I get it, there are issues more critical than whether the café puts the wrong sauce on my vegan buckwheat wrap.

But let’s indulge for a moment and be honest about this issue. Because as customers we get feedback requests thrown at us all the time. I accept that businesses value my customer satisfaction even if cynically. But most of the time I still don’t want to give you feedback. And it’s not just me — in fact 49.7% of us don’t speak up when we have a frustrating product experience.

So what’s with the discrepancy?

The truth is that I expect things to just work. I expect my coffee to be hot. I expect you to service my car correctly. I expect you to process my payment in time. And when everything is as I expect, you probably won’t hear from me through a feedback form or suggestion box.

When things don’t work; when I have an experience that doesn’t meet my expectations, it’s my loss. I’m the one whose trust was damaged. The social contract where I gave you my money and you promised to give me a ‘defined something’ in return. Well you didn’t give me that defined something!

When you ask for feedback afterwards, you’re asking me to give you even more trust and help you out. This is a big ask.

It’s no wonder feedback is so hard to get.

Breaking news — the circuit breaker to all this is a relationship. A relationship takes a contract (I pay; you give me coffee) into a higher domain. A relationship encourages me to be generous, to give you my trust a second time. And yes, a relationship enables me to forgive your mistake and see what really matters.

A better system to collect feedback or a juicier reward for my time will never offer the entire answer. You and your employees have to build real person-person connections with your customers. It’s not personalising every email and knowing the name of my cat. I just want to be reminded that we’re two human beings solving a problem together. This is so rare these days.

Do it and I’ll invest far more in your business than just my feedback.

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