In the previous post “Simon says, Part 1”, I spoke about the differences between the judges, Randy, Paula and Simon, on American Idol. I pointed out that each of these judges had their own unique style and delivered feedback, good or bad, differently. Randy is the softy, always trying to be as gentle as possible. Paula is always “over-the-top” positive, no matter how bad the person’s performance. And then there’s everyone’s favorite bad guy, Simon, who never seems to have anything nice to say. And when he doesn’t like a performance, he has no problem saying so.
I commented in my previous entry that I saw a parallel between these judges and the people who make up an evaluation team. In this entry, I’d like to talk about how the comments and suggestions these judges offer and how I see these as similar to feedback from a customer.
As Jon and I have said many times, when getting feedback from a customer, you’re usually not getting a real opinion. Typically the customer has no vested interest in spending time with a vendor who has not been awarded the contract and will therefore give the easiest and least contentious answer. And that is to say, “You lost because your price was too high”. Much like Paula not wishing to ever say anything bad to a performer, the customer will offer this answer to avoid telling a vendor that their proposal was poor, their account manager was weak or that they just weren’t confident in that particular vendor’s ability.
On American Idol, I personally think Simon’s very direct, succinct and often painful opinions and comments are the most beneficial to a performer. I find the same to be true with customer feedback. While it’s easier and less painful to have a customer tell you that your proposal “wasn’t that bad” or “it was almost what we were looking for”, feedback from a customer who is willing to be brutally honest about why you’ve lost and willing to tell you in no uncertain terms what you need to do to win next time, this is the most valuable information you can get.
So, when seeking customer feedback, enjoy the comments from the Paulas, but dig for, learn from and build upon the comments from the Simons out there.