fish guts
Image via Pixabay.

Is leaping into defensiveness stopping you from hearing valuable customer feedback?

Many businesses pay handsomely to solicit customer feedback. While others dismiss feedback because they lack the emotional maturity to cope with criticism, no matter how constructively they were presented.

Here are two examples from my travels. Both of these were small changes that would have significantly improved the customer experience.

Fish Guts

At a South China Sea ecotourism fish farm, there was a large pen set aside for snorkelling. Visitors could literally swim with the fish. To enhance the experience, a staff member would throw food into the water around the tourists. It was all rather well done.

Except the food they threw was fish guts. Which of course, went all, over, everyone. (I suddenly discovered the joy of having really short hair.)

When we were asked for feedback later, I said: “Maybe not throw fish guts at tourists. You could use manufacturer pellets instead. That’ll make for a less smelly experience.”

Their response: “Oh no, we can't possibly do that. We only feed freshly chopped fish guts to our fish. We don’t use chemicals at all.”

The fact that the fish in the swimming pen was only there for tourist visits, and not for food, was seemingly lost to them.

Noisy Compressor

An eco-farm restaurant I went to with friends had the perfect location. It was at the bend of a river, at the end of a long road from the nearest town, and surrounded by mangroves. The restaurant was new. French doors opened out into the view across the river.

You’d be forgiven for thinking: fresh air, lapping water, and birdsong, right?

Oh, no. There was a compressor right outside the door. Between the restaurant and the river. In barely 10m of space.

So what customers got was: a droning loud motor and diesel fumes.

“We are glad you enjoyed your meal. Do you have any suggestions?” asked the proprietor when we were paying.

“You have a great view. If you could relocate the compressor around to the side of the building, that would really improve the whole experience. As you can hear right now, it is rather noisy. And smoky.”

“Oh no, we can’t do that. We need the compressor to keep the fish alive.” (They had fish pens along the waterfront, set up with pretty walkways and pavilions. And that damned compressor.)