Raise your hand if you really enjoy hearing in detail all of the things that you’ve been doing wrong. Anyone? Well, you’re not alone. Hearing how you’ve disappointed the very people you would rather please is an assault on the ego. You’d like to think that people are generally happy with you. That way you can just continue plodding along, as you have been, without making any drastic changes to your behavior, without having to admit your mistakes and misjudgments, without having difficult conversations about sensitive subjects. We’d rather not have our warm, soothing bubble burst. In a word, we’d all like to remain comfortable.

Cognitive dissonance, the state that occurs when a person holds two psychologically inconsistent beliefs, creates a very unpleasant mental tension. When you think you’re delivering satisfactory service to someone, and then you come to learn that this someone is deeply unsatisfied for reasons they outline for you in detail – this creates in you two competing set of beliefs: 1) I know how to deliver satisfactory service, and 2) I don’t know how to deliver satisfactory service. This tension nags on you because your mind can only be commanded to ignore reality to a certain degree – and it will quietly take in and process any evidence that contradicts what you think you know, whether you want to or not. When you ignore the contradiction, the tension begins to grow.

Businesses are no different. After all, a business is just an assembly of people, and a business’s behavior will be the aggregate of those peoples’ behaviors. But just as any mature adult will tell you, as much as the truth hurts, if you can just allow the dust and the emotions to settle, the path forward the truth illuminates always leads to a better place.

Just as not all adults are mature, not all businesses are ready to hear where they’re falling short. They prefer to remain in their bubble, while their customers grumble under their breath, or to the world with an online review. They get defensive, they circle the wagons, they discredit the critic, they deny responsibility, and bury their heads deeper and deeper into the sand.

There are other businesses that are hungry to improve and sincerely interested in making painstaking progress, day by day, inch by inch. They recognize that the naked truth of where they stand will be uncomfortable and painful. Yet they know that the only long-term strategy to resolve the discomfort is to address and fix the issues head on. For those businesses that are ready to give their customers a voice, there is a powerful tool that makes it ever so simple to get the cold hard truth about what’s really going on. For those businesses, there is Feedback.

Your customers would like to tell you something. Are you ready to listen?