“Stay true to your vision, – Too many entrepreneurs pivot too soon.” – Jennifer Fremont-Smith
We bet you are staring at the title of this article in disbelief. Did we just say that it is acceptable to ignore customer feedback sometimes? Yes – we did and as you read on, you will unravel the truth of the article and the relevance of the quote. The fact is companies are constantly trying to keep pace with competitors and the changing customer needs, and in that endeavour, they constantly innovate. Coming up with new ideas, products, channels for distribution, and other such tactics require time, effort, and money – which companies do to stay competitive. However, despite their best and sincerest efforts, these tactics do not exactly produce the results they expect, but customers might interpret the efforts and products in a completely different manner, which in turn throws up entirely differently results. Sometimes companies may need to change their strategies based on the voice of the market and on what customers think, which then is a new project, requiring more resources.
It is really the onus of a company to decide whether to stick with the original plan, or adjust the product and service to the market. Most often, sticking to the vision and not ‘pivoting’ is perhaps the most difficult decision for any company – but to ignore customer feedback sometimes is not always a poor decision. Irrespective of whether a company gives in to what customers think or not, they would still most likely be speaking about your business. There are social comments, online and offline discussions – directed at a company’s business and sometimes the attempt is to have a direct conversation with the company. This is all customer feedback and is possibly one of the most crucial aspects of any business but there are times when companies ignore feedback, especially when delivered via social media. Studies reveal that at least 70% of the companies ignore customer feedback on these platforms – which some believe may not be prudent. However, there are times when it is wiser for companies to ignore customer feedback rather than go headlong into implementing every suggestion they may make.
Is your company able to decide when to consider customer feedback and when to ignore it? True that without customers there can be no business. However, if a company closely monitors user metrics they would be able to see the gap between what customers say and what they do. This would help a company to decide whether listening to customers and implementing their suggestions immediately would be better than waiting them out. The reason a company would need to listen to and act on customer feedback would essentially be to enhance the experiences customers have with the company. Better customer experiences result in loyalty and profitability – both essential for long-term success and sustainability for any business. Customers feel valued and important when they are able to provide feedback – they perceive the company’s commitment towards improvement and giving them what they want. It creates and sustains a connection with customers, which is essential for the growth of the company and allows a company to do things better than its competitors.
However, we are looking at the subject of understanding when it is acceptable to ignore customer feedback. While customers may be all praise through their words for a new product or service, they may not exactly match their enthusiasm with their actions. Initial ‘euphoria’ and positive feedback does not necessarily mean that the company is on the right track – this is one of those times when it would be acceptable to ignore customer feedback till the ‘dust settles’. There are a number of examples, where customers and prospective ones may have seemed highly enthusiastic at the launch of a product or service, but their buying behaviour may not exactly match the enthusiasm. Hence, companies that would have made the mistake of assuming that the initial positive feedback was actually what customers believed, may have gone full throttle on their product or service, leading to failure. In such case, it would be prudent for a company to ignore customer feedback and rather wait until they can see conclusive evidence of an opportunity and that the product is ready for the market immediately.
There are a number of companies and their leaders, who constantly change their vision and course of action, based on every customer feedback they receive. This is never a healthy trend – in business, it is essential sometimes to shut off and ignore customer feedback. It would be better, to weigh the options and sift the information before making any decisions. If a company’s leaders – to whom customers may have direct access – were to take customer feedback constantly into account – that is all they would be doing. We have mentioned that customer happiness is highly subjective and is based on their individual needs and expectations. Hence, with fluctuating levels of happiness and expectations, it would more prudent for a company to ignore customer feedback sometimes – rather than become paranoid with every change and demand.
While we may be saying that it is acceptable to ignore customer feedback sometimes, we do not mean that companies should discard the feedback. With so many channels of communication, responding to each piece of information from them cannot be wise use of a leaders time, but there can always be someone assigned to collect and collate the feedback, for use later. No company remains popular or liked at all times – there is bound to be something that dents their popularity or spikes it beyond their expectations. It is at these times that companies must ignore customer feedback and fight back the ‘temptation’ to implement suggestions. At such ‘peak times’ the feedback can get overwhelming and therefore it would be best ‘ignore’ them but put someone in charge of sifting through it, to ascertain whether there is anything that does need immediate attention and which feedback is part of a ‘trend’ or pattern.
Another reason why companies should sometimes ignore customer feedback is because, these opportunities are sometimes a lot more than a company can handle and exceed the resources it may have to manage the changes. No company has the capability to do everything and therefore they would need to guide their decisions based on what would work best for the company and what it is best equipped to do. If a company does not learn to ignore customer feedback sometimes, it could land up confusing its brand image and vision, which in turn would lead to dissatisfaction and distrust in the minds of customers and other target audience. Customers do not always know the outcomes of their suggestions – it is the onus of a company to weigh their options versus the feedback and decide on what they know would be beneficial for both parties.
Experts seem to recommend that it remains extremely crucial to listen consistently to customers, especially when they share a problem. The solutions offered by the company, must be beneficial to both parties. The decision-making has to take place somewhere – and it is the responsibility of a company to step up with confidence and make decisions based on its expertise. Your company would be the one making the product – which means that your knowledge would be a lot more, and better, about the offerings and goals of your company, than anyone else would, and therefore it would be fine to ignore customer feedback sometimes. A customer would provide feedback from their own perspective – a narrow one, focused on their needs and expectations. Your company is responsible for itself and all the others associated with it – customers, employees, investors, and other stakeholders – and hence it would be prudent to ignore one section of its ‘partners’ in favour of the greater good. After all, your partners expect this from you!