Negative and Positive Feedback Loops (Including Examples)
You probably have heard about feedback and you definitely have experienced it – even though you might haven’t been aware of some specific times you were receiving or giving it. Now, you are either quite confused or eager to know more about some “feedback loops” everybody has been talking about lately.
Well, what are feedback loops and why are they important? Feedback loops are best described through an ideology that advocates constant improvement and prospers, as any person, organization or a company that follows this business ideology must include feedback loops in all of their processes.
Simply said, a feedback loop is a process in which the outputs of a system are used as a beginning of a new process – reinventing and improving the one in the starter place.
This basically means that the outputs coming out from any system are gathered and used as inputs, making a complete circle and therefore working on the constant improvement of the system.
Many areas are covering feedback loops, such as social, biological, behavioral, economic etc. In business manner, this refers to the process of using customer or employee feedback (the outputs of a service or product), to create a better product or workplace, all with an aim of improving the employee and customer satisfaction, and therefore the entire business.
We’ll cover the difference between positive and negative loops, why many organizations use it and what you should do in order to start implementing this powerful tool in your organization or company.
ABOUT THE FEEDBACK IN GENERAL
Working with many customers and on various projects, we have come to the realization that not all people are aware of the feedback, its purpose and impact it has.
So before covering the feedback loops, we’ll go a bit deeper into the feedback in general, to get some bases for further knowledge.
Feedback is defined as the information gained about a reaction to a product, service or someone’s behavior, which will allow the modification and improvement of the product or service that have received the feedback, or the person him or herself – which is the most enchanting thing to watch in the world.
We all want to be the best, at least in some specific areas.
Therefore, we are trying to become better and better each day. The biggest problem happens due to the fact that we are not able to solely see everything that needs to be seen.
That’s why we need other people – usually, those who work with us the most and know us the best, to help us notice the blind spots about ourselves.
Somebody once said that receiving a feedback is the best gift you can get. This has been proven multiple times as accurate, due to the fact that feedback always comes from somebody who cares.
Whether it’s some of the colleagues, boss or a family member – it’s always with the good cause and main aim for us to become better.
Even though it can be sometimes really hard to receive a feedback, especially when it’s about us personally, it is always the first step in becoming better.
Therefore, the next time your boss criticizes you for not completing something the way he or she wanted you to, you should bear in mind that they are doing this because:
- They take care very much about the company and the particular thing you are doing
- They care about you and want you to become better – if this wasn’t the truth, they would have already fired you in order not to “waste” their time with you
It’s important also to mention that feedback comes when people believe that we can change something – improve the product, service or entire project. If they thought that their talk was useless, they would keep quiet.
This summons up the entire importance of the feedback. Its magic is proven the best by experiencing it by yourself – whether you are giving somebody the feedback and watching them improve through time and become better than they ever imagined, or you are the one receiving it and starting the magic journey of reinventing yourself.
Feedback is an essential part of any business nowadays and knowing how to give and receive it becomes more and more valuable soft skill to all employers.
Therefore, you should research more about feedback techniques and also find out the best and most effective way to implement the feedback.
NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOPS
The word “negative” itself has a negative connotation but does not have to be negative at all. On the contrary, when it comes to negative feedback loops, the result is more than positive.
A negative feedback loop can be defined as a process where an organization or a company listens to customers’ complaints or grievances and then uses that feedback to improve their products or customer service.
We mention loop again because the customers’ feedback (output) is used as constructive input on a redesign of their product or a service, thus creating a circle.
If you can imagine buying, for example, a washing machine from a famous brand and then realizing some features are out of a function.
This makes you fail a complaint (or submit a feedback if we talk at the professional level), which causes the company to take your feedback as the input for further improvement.
Every washing machine that they’ve produced since you’ve submitted a feedback had no difficulties with features, all due to the fact that they’ve received feedback appropriately and used it constructively to improve their product, creating a negative feedback loop.
There are many reasons negative feedback loops are that important.
The strongest one is the fact that it puts customers in the center, reinventing the product or service, based on their wishes and needs. Customer centricity is becoming a global trend and essential thing for any company if it wants to stay in the business and maintain its customers.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are unsatisfied with some specific product of a service, but you receive immediate help from the company and see that they are working on solving it, there are much more chances that you will buy again from the same company, even though you’ve had problems in the first place.
It’s all because the care they’ve shown for their customer, in this specific case, you.
EXAMPLES OF NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOPS
There are many examples of companies who have already established negative feedback loops and therefore made progress. We will mention only a couple of them, explaining their success with negative feedback loops.
Well known online retailer, Amazon.com, is a perfect example of a business that uses a feedback loop.
Amazon was one of the first to drastically change the world of online business by launching a constant process of interaction and dialogue with its customers.
The negative feedback loop keeps customers aware of their impact, which motivates them to offer their feedback.
They can see it later implemented, as Amazon provides products and services that address consumer preferences and adapt according to the feedback.
The ever growing importance of feedback loops results in opening new hiring positions for feedback experts, who evaluate the feedbacks and also delve into the power of customers, offering their perspective on how Amazon can increase customer feedback.
The goal of feedback experts is to completely understand what the customer needs and desires, and work on social interaction with them, which could improve the entire customer experience.
Amazon is only one of the companies that have proved that constructive negative feedback loops can be used to achieve a greater appreciation of the company’s efforts, leading to improving the customer experience and creating brand ambassadors for the company.
2. Trader Joe’s
This is quite an interesting example. Trader Joe’s is might not well- known as Amazon, but sure does some revolutionary things when it comes to feedback loops and customer centricity.
The key to the success of Trader Joe’s is the fact that they don’t focus on traditional customer service methods, but instead, they strongly believe in live interaction between employees and customers.
Their retail staff spends most of the time on the floor, interacting with customers and immediately responding to their needs, whilst working.
Trader Joe’s employees’ put a focus on human interaction, as they all feel it is necessary for outstanding customer service.
They constantly move their boundaries and find ways to improve their customer satisfaction.
For example, when one of their customers requested her favorite soy ice cream cookie, they stocked up on it just for her.
This might seem like a small gesture, but it’s crucial when it comes to creating long-term customers and developing strong relationships with them.
POSITIVE FEEDBACK LOOPS
A positive feedback loop sound more encouraging in the start so let see what it is all about.
A positive feedback loop can be defined as a process where an organization or a company listens to employees’ complaints or grievances (their feedback) and uses that feedback to improve internal structure and workplace satisfaction.
It’s considered a loop because employees’ feedback (output) on the system or the process is used as input on a rebuilding and reconstructing the work culture, thus completing a circle.
It is believed that as a result of improved workplace satisfaction, the company will be able to increase their profits. This doesn’t come all by itself. Every company or organization should question itself – who brings the results? Who reaches the goals?
The answer will always be people.
By investing in people, trying to create a better work culture, providing them with all they need, and most importantly – giving them the feeling of importance by taking into consideration their feedback and implementing it, they will feel more motivated for work and progress, and therefore will try harder and achieve more.
If you still doubt that, just try complimenting one of your employees when he or she does an extraordinary job.
Then ask them about their opinion and what do they believe is the best solution for improving the entire process or workplace.
After receiving the feedback, try implementing it as soon as possible. When your employees see that you have applied one of their suggestions, they will realize their worth and how much they are appreciated, which will result in them contributing even more.
Can you imagine a company where each employee is completely aware of their role and feels entirely motivated to contribute in each aspect?
That kind of organization is the ultimate goal, and once when it becomes achieved, it will become endless.
EXAMPLES OF POSITIVE FEEDBACK LOOPS
Bearing in mind that positive feedback loops are focused on improving the organization internally, we will mention some companies who have succeeded in implementing positive feedback loops for their improvement.
1. Southwest Airlines
You probably have heard about this airlines company, maybe you have even chosen it for your flying client. But the period when you heard about it plays a huge role.
If it happened quite a while ago, then you are probably familiar with this brand due to the fact that they are reliable, affordable and, well, you’ve seen that they exist when you’ve searched for your best flying option.
On the other hand, if you have just found about them recently, there might be a chance that you heard about them, all due to the fact that each employee is entirely proud to be part of that company and strives eagerly each day to improve it.
Everything changed when they got a new CEO. She realized that the employees didn’t feel motivated enough, therefore resulting in their average or under-average performance. She decided to do something quite radically – to completely change the vision of the company.
Even though it was a big change, she explains that she recognized needs of her employees and decided to change the vision of the entire company, in order for them to feel like contributing to the greater thing, boosting their motivation and dedication by it.
As she says, the company consists of people, and the success of the company is determined by the success of people who represent it.
Her move resulted in Southwest Airlines taking proudly the first place when it comes to listing the best place for work, for 8 consecutive years.
It is needless to say how much this impacted their entire business.
Again, it is a well-known company but less known how they used positive feedback loops to become well known in the entire society.
A couple of years ago, Microsoft was a company that consisted of many people who were competing against each other, instead of competing against the outer competition.
This resulted in average performance and really toxic organization culture, where no employee felt inspired to work or contribute, but was worrying about how to become better than his colleague and how to stay in the race for the prize that was only known to them.
The CEO decided to gather feedback from each employee, asking them about their focuses and inviting them to focus on the organization’s goals and targets.
She summoned up every feedback and in the end set the main message to all employees that was asking them to play fair and be team players.
It resulted in employees realizing how important team role is, and how they won’t be valued less if their colleagues are good too, but on the contrary – teamwork is one of the most valued skills, and it will only help them achieve more and go further by working together.
This is where the change has begun and this is the main reason teams within the company are cooperating with each other, each employee has a chance to make a progress, and the company is achieving more than ever.
There is one sentence I always remember when I’m not sure how to act in certain situations. It says “speak the truth even if your voice shakes”.
If you memorize this sentence and recall it from your memory each time you are having a doubt whether or not you should give a feedback, try recalling all the examples on how effective the feedback can be for individuals and the organization, and then do it.
You will feel no greater joy, but when you realize how something you’ve said impacted others positively and made a contribution.
In the end, you owe it to yourself and to the company. If you are still not sure how to implement feedback loops in your company, start by offering your feedback whenever you have something constructive to say.
If you are in a leading position, don’t forget to ask your employees about their opinion, and then, implement their feedback.
On the other hand, if you are working directly with the customers, listen carefully. They all have something valuable to say to you, which you can use to improve your product, customer service or even yourself.
Feedback loops are a powerful tool, and if you learn how to use it correctly, you can achieve outstanding things.
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