Why Ask For Feedback If You’re Just Going To Ignore It?

How often do we heard this complaint, “I gave all this feedback and nothing changed!” Assumptions are everything in miscommunication and this complaint assumes the survey was intended to change things. Why would somebody survey if they didn’t want to act on the results? So they can say they did a survey.

The problem here is that we think we’re doing something that has meaning when it actually just has function. So we assume a phrase like “What do you think about…” means an invitation for feedback, when it actually function as a check next to “I got feedback from X group.”

Yes, people actually do this in real life.

Sure, feedback can be ignored unintentionally. Well-meaning people survey (because they’re “supposed to”), but they either don’t know how to write a helpful instrument, don’t know how to collect data in a processable way, and/or don’t know how to report the results in way that makes it a decision-making tool. So it’s not that they don’t listen; it’s that they can’t. That’s sad, but it’s not malicious.

On the other hand, ignoring survey data can also be done intentionally. Consider this statement: “We did extensive customer feedback and we’re thrilled to announce these new features.” Nothing in that sentence claims the new features came from the feedback. “But that’s sophistry!” Yes, yes it is. But the question we’re addressing is why somebody asks for feedback and then ignores it and the answer to that is quite simple: so they can say they did.

I’m not defending this silliness, but I am attempting to illustrate that there is a logic to these completely insane business practices.