All entrepreneurs pour their hearts into their business. Starting a business is like having a baby (albeit at the 9-month mark you could still walk away from a business and all us mothers know that is not a possibility with birthing a real baby–no turning back!)
After putting so much of your very soul into creating your business it may feel like a personal stab to your heart when a customer criticizes your products or services. How do you not take criticism from customers or employees personally? After all, you have customized this to be the best possible product or service you could create.
Loving your company and what you do does not have to prevent you from changing to best meet your customer needs. But it will require expanding your ability to listen to criticism as information, not condemnation. People who work in customer service jobs and do them well have an amazing skill at listening, meeting someone’s needs, and not taking the often emotionally ridden customer feedback from a defensive posture. They truly want to find a solution. Next time you encounter a customer service person who does their job well, notice what they do and try to put it into practice yourself.
The question really boils down to this.
Are you an artist putting your works of creativity and soul on display? Or, are you a business person trying to meet your customers’ needs?
An artist interprets life and then forms art in various mediums based on their perspective. Some people will like what the artist has done, and others will not. There are a lot of starving artists, because it is difficult to stay true to their artist perspective AND meet the commercial desires of what sells.
However, as a business person your goal is to assess what the customer wants and form your products and services around those needs so they sell. This means you have to take customer feedback as the feedback loop from which you morph and change how you do business. It requires a level of detachment from the work you are providing and a larger interest in the bottom line. If you find this difficult, you might move yourself out of the company management and put someone better suited to that role, while you continue to infuse your creative genius into the company. Customer feedback rules the day. Being able to listen and adapt is the difference between mediocre and truly successful companies.
That said, it is also critical you recognize your products and services will not be right for ALL customers. Know what customers you want to serve and serve them well. If occassionally you get someone who does not match your customer profile and they are dissatisfied–happily refund their money and send them on their way to someone who better matches their needs.
You will never make everyone happy and if you try you will stop making the customers who love you happy, too.
Do your best. Continue to put your soul into your work, it is what makes it valuable. Remember customer feedback is your goldmine to future wins. Listen and learn.