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The Legacy of Personal Feedback

By Guy Arnold and Russell Wood

The more we use the 5-star rating system, the more we fall out with it. We don’t like the rating system because it can be hijacked. The views expressed can be off the cuff or they can be out of context. In truth, it is the feedback required by the Needy Box Ticker (NBT) whose deadline for the monthly marketing report is looming.

Can you really benchmark or rely on such subjective responses?

Looking into people’s eyes or listening to their tone of voice adds huge value to their feedback. You can assess the truth of their response through body language, eye contact, and the tenor of their voice. It adds a level of certainty. Investing in quality feedback processes and systems provides your organisation with the certainty that the decisions you will make on determining your next “development inches” will be sound.

If we are being genuinely honest with ourselves and the supplier of the product or service, a meaningful response can only be considered “Great” or “Poor”. Every rating in between, whether a number or a word, is either an excuse or a justification to ourselves, our peers or the online community. Making the choice of feedback being either “Great” or “Poor” challenges the responder to think. It also gives your organisation a simpler opportunity to ask why. There’s no irrelevant discussion about what “satisfactory” or a score of 7 means. It is the WD40 of marketing, unlocking the truth, searching out the grime, but more importantly creating a situation to free up the responder’s ability to be truthful and, at the same time, the questioner’s ability to have permission to ask.

The route to great feedback is firstly engagement. Star-rated clicked responses do not provide engagement. They are fleeting gestures. The responder can just feel obligated to click and move on with their lives. Yes, they may add a comment, positive or negative, but they are doing it whilst commuting, waiting for the kids or whilst not paying real attention in a meeting.

How can most of this type of feedback be truly valuable?

Talking to a customer on the phone, Skype, Facetime or dare I say face to face, is true engagement. With permission, you can delve a little more. You can establish what we call the Customer’s Real Needs.

The people you want to do the delving are ideally your people. Of course, you should seriously consider the assistance of a professional company to help you set it up and audit it. However, ownership of the process, the sharing of outcomes, and the determining of the next development inches are more powerful if they are done by your internal team. As a consequence they will learn new personal skills, but the biggest win for the organisation is that they will get to understand the Customer’s Real Needs firsthand.

Your team cannot hide from the truth.

The quality of this feedback type can lead the customer from a “transactional” relationship to ultimately a “partnership” REALationship. It engenders loyalty in the interaction between customer and organisation, and the bedrock of trust is firmly laid down.

In our book, we introduce the notion of FUEL – Feedback Underpins Engagement and Loyalty – and it is truly a virtuous circle. A thought-through, simple feedback system with “lead” measures, driven by your team members and independently audited, is a powerful but inexpensive entity. It is the energy which drives the consistent effort and evaluation required in a quality feedback system.

In this blog, we would like to take that thought a step further.

Great organisations often create a legacy. It may be the legacy of a product or an invention which has just stood the test of time. It may be the impact that it had on society or a specific user group. A legacy has an impact or benefit. Like the birth of your children, you will always remember it.

Our contention is you do not have to win awards, make millions, or create a charitable foundation to create a “legacy” relationship with your customers. By consistently delivering a quality feedback system and satisfying the Customer’s Real Needs, you will form a “legacy” REALationship. They will always trust you, be honest with you and share ideas without question, forever! After all, you are allowed to talk to customers more than once!

Throughout our book, we challenge the reader with “Thinkabouts”. Here’s one for you to consider:

“You cannot leave your legacy online because it lacks your true personality. You can leave your legacy in the mind of a customer with every spoken word you share.”

Guy Arnold is Founder and Managing Director of Sales Through Service and Investors in Feedback. Russell Wood is a professional trainer and business advisor in the leisure and gaming industry. They are co-authors of The Reputation Book (LID Publishing 2017). Find out more at

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