Where to Look
Starting his presentation with a quote from Steve Jobs about seeking honest feedback, Brandon cautioned against relying on a limited number of employees or clients to solicit comments. He also pointed out the pitfalls of relying solely on online reviews, as users tend to be overly passionate when they leave comments either for or against a product.
How to Ask
Brandon stresses that through direct outreach, you can collect assessments from your clients in a process that you control. You can ask specific questions, but you shouldn’t limit the questions to what you think you want to know. Brandon recommends collecting open comments too. His common denominator between soliciting reviews and analyzing randomly submitted messages is that all constructive feedback warrants, at minimum, some sort of response. That goes for both workers and clients. "Show your employees and customers you're listening," he said.
Know Your Base
Just because someone tells you something though doesn't mean you have to act. If a new student hoped a Vinyasa class would be as slow paced as a Yin class, that's an issue for the student's personal preferences more than the classes themselves. If you shifted strategies every time a customer offered criticism, it would be hard for your business to generate a profit based on a consistent product. Brandon mentioned that it's already difficult enough to make a full-time living instructing yoga as it is, so a key ingredient for success is to focus on the overall, loyal customer base instead of simply catering to certain individuals.
In Brandon's case with Sunstone Yoga, he offered an example about asking for grades from customers, rating their experiences with the company on a scale of one to 10. For franchise owners, he mentioned that there's also a balance between encouraging competition between employees while still figuring out what is possible for them to achieve. "It's not so much about the competition as it is about the bench-marking," he said.
Consider Different Perspectives
Part of what makes constructive feedback helpful is that it comes from the perspectives of people who aren't you. While it may be inherent for you to believe in what you're doing, Brandon recommended being open to outside thoughts too. At the conference, he distinguished between being a confident "knower" and a willing "learner," saying that all of us have some semblance of both qualities. The learner is willing to not only consider what others have to say, which is the essence of reacting to feedback, but to deliberately ask for advice.