Quit whining!

Practice the rare art of Constructive Feedback

It doesn’t do anyone any good to hear whining, complaining, sniveling, bitching, temper tantrums, or other displays of disaffection in response to requests for feedback.

I figure that if someone ASKS for feedback, that person wants to know the TRUTH about another person’s opinions about the product or service.

Why do they want to know the TRUTH?

Odds are good, they are interested in IMPROVING their product and/or process to increase their odds of pleasing more customers thereby setting the stage for more future business in the form of repeat and referrals.

My rule comes from that old saying: “If you don’t have anything nice or CONSTRUCTIVE to say, don’t say anything at all.”

If you’re going to give feedback, tell the truth and offer SOLUTIONS and do it in a way that preserves dignity.

Recently, I had a an unpleasant happening regarding the process of my Auto service company . . . They asked for feedback:

Thank you for your business. Our service team takes great pride in providing the highest quality service. We hope that we exceeded your expectations and that you will consider us your one-stop shop for all your vehicle and service needs.

If for any reason your visit was not Truly Exceptional or you have a suggestion or comment for us, please reply to this email or call me.

Also, I want to remind you that you may receive a survey from the manufacturer and ask that you please complete it. That survey is our team’s report card and very important to us!

Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing you on your next visit.

I responded:

I think your level of service is top notch!
I and my wife always feel well taken care of (even Pampered sometimes), and we appreciate the occasional special touches like washing our dirty cars.
We have 3 cars and service all of them at your company.
My most recent visit was an emergency. I knew the timing belt was overdue for being serviced/replaced and had planned to have that done to the tune of the guestimate of $1,100, but it seems the alternator decided to accelerate things – It failed Tuesday night.
I left the car Wednesday morning – I don’t remember who the service rep was but I was very happy with the way he handled the in-process. He asked the right questions and I felt heard.
Later, he called to get my OK on doing the work (Alternator and Timing belt)
I agreed it should all be done and asked the price – After some clicking, he told me $1,680
When I picked up the car yesterday, the charge was $1928.95 (a full 13% higher than I expected)
I paid it and walked away shaking my head . . . not understanding the discrepancy . . .
I would have left angry without saying anything had my wife not told me to go back in an ask.
Turns out, his $1,680 quote did not include tax and the actual charge was @ $75 more than he had estimated.
The end result was that the service manager (I’m horrible with names – Might be you) offered to cut me a check back for $200 which recouped all but $48 of the overage – I was appreciative of that and still am – The problem wasn’t a matter of overcharging, it was underestimating . . . and this is not the first time this has happened to us at your shop
I am taking the time to write all of this because I think this is something you can fix
First off – Why wouldn’t you always include tax in estimates? That’s designed failure
Just as you have “No haggle Pricing” of your new cars, why can’t you give a firm estimate in writing after assessing the car?
Just email it to the customer for approval subject only to finding something additional wrong while making the repair in which eventuality, you stop work and contact the customer for approval.
You then guarantee that price and check the final price against the quoted estimate before finalizing the bill, and your customer will be HAPPY at the end.
I sell houses – MUCH larger and more complex transaction – and we are able to have “Good Faith Estimates” of the costs to the Buyers which are Federally required to be accurate.
You have everything else right from a service perspective, but missing estimates will kill your customer’s trust . . . and you clearly have the systems to be able to fix this problem.
I hope you take this as “Constructive Feedback” and figure a way to solve this blip in your process.
Y’all are too good in every other way to let this drag you down.
Thank you for listening,
We’ll see ya at the next service.

Because my brain works this way . . . after sending my email (which was well received), I thought I would share Some things I learned in the Army from my superiors:

  • 3 “Unacceptables” 
    • Whiners
    • Quitters
    • Wimps
  • If you’re going to complain, offer at least 2 solutions.
  • Volunteer early and often – You’ll advance through the ranks faster because you’ll have more depth of leadership experience than those who don’t.
  • Understand MASS – A coordinated effort undertaken by many people projects a more formidable force than any gaggle of solo operators
  • Have a CLEAR Objective – ALWAYS – Mass isn’t possible until/unless all members fully understand the objective
  • Always maintain Security through awareness of surroundings to minimize vulnerability to unexpected harm
  • Champion SURPRISE as a strategy through continuous improvement and innovation.
  • Maintain maneuverability – Stay light on your feet – Avoid slipping into a rut or bogging yourself down with baggage such that shifting your way becomes difficult
  • Maintain an OFFENSIVE approach in everything. Always move TOWARDS an objective . . . not avoidance (moving away from something). FORWARD!
  • Exercise unquestionable Unity of command and effort. There must be ONE Leader who makes the ultimate decisions – All effort combines to project appropriate force to reach the objective
  • Practice SIMPLICITY! Clear and concise plans promote more complete understanding. Approach every process with an intent to do one less thing while maintaining the integrity of the mission.
  • Intentionally operate with an eye on Economy of force – That is – Employ all available resources in the most effective way possible. Not too much nor too little.

Most of these derive from the United States Armed Forces use of the following nine principles of war (Sometimes referenced as the acronym MOSS MOUSE:

  • Mass – Mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the decisive place and time. Synchronizing all the elements of combat power where they will have decisive effect on an enemy force in a short period of time is to achieve mass. Massing effects, rather than concentrating forces, can enable numerically inferior forces to achieve decisive results, while limiting exposure to enemy fire.
  • Objective – Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective. The ultimate military purpose of war is the destruction of the enemy’s ability to fight and will to fight.
  • Security – Never permit the enemy to acquire unexpected advantage. Security enhances freedom of action by reducing vulnerability to hostile acts, influence, or surprise. Security results from the measures taken by a commander to protect his forces. Knowledge and understanding of enemy strategy, tactics, doctrine, and staff planning improve the detailed planning of adequate security measures.
  • Surprise – Strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared. Surprise can decisively shift the balance of combat power. By seeking surprise, forces can achieve success well out of proportion to the effort expended. Surprise can be in tempo, size of force, direction or location of main effort, and timing. Deception can aid the probability of achieving surprise.
  • Maneuver – Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power. Maneuver is the movement of forces in relation to the enemy to gain positional advantage. Effective maneuver keeps the enemy off balance and protects the force. It is used to exploit successes, to preserve freedom of action, and to reduce vulnerability. It continually poses new problems for the enemy by rendering his actions ineffective, eventually leading to defeat. …
  • Offensive – Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Offensive action is the most effective and decisive way to attain a clearly defined common objective. Offensive operations are the means by which a military force seizes and holds the initiative while maintaining freedom of action and achieving decisive results. This is fundamentally true across all levels of war.
  • Unity of Command – For every objective, seek unity of command and unity of effort. At all levels of war, employment of military forces in a manner that masses combat power toward a common objective requires unity of command and unity of effort. Unity of command means that all the forces are under one responsible commander. It requires a single commander with the requisite authority to direct all forces in pursuit of a unified purpose.
  • Simplicity – Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and concise orders to ensure thorough understanding. Everything in war is very simple, but the simple thing is difficult. To the uninitiated, military operations are not difficult. Simplicity contributes to successful operations. Simple plans and clear, concise orders minimize misunderstanding and confusion. Other factors being equal, parsimony is to be preferred.
  • Economy of Force – Employ all combat power available in the most effective way possible; allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. Economy of force is the judicious employment and distribution of forces. No part of the force should ever be left without purpose. The allocation of available combat power to such tasks as limited attacks, defense, delays, deception, or even retrograde operations is measured in order to achieve mass elsewhere at the decisive point and time on the battlefield. …

Published by Barry Owen

Strategist-CEO of Pareto Realty Real estate sales Professional Inviter-Facilitator-Practicer of Open Space Technology Opening safe space for people & organizations to self-organize around issues & opportunities BarryOwen.US Invite-Listen-Love

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *