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Complaint vs. Feedback


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Complaint vs. Feedback

Looking at the things we are not paying attention to

Me: I don’t like how you guys operate. Quite frankly,  you guys are the worst internet guys we’ve  used. Slow connection and lack of communication. Not impressed.

Internet Guy: Why complain, yet you’re not disconnected.

Me: Its not a complaint, it’s feedback for your service.

This conversation was a part of what I had with the guy that very briefly supplied our apartment with internet. We had moved to a new place and we needed to get an internet service that would be stable and strong enough to handle our work, which is mostly internet based. We do quite a lot of downloading, uploading, streaming every now and then. So to not have reliable internet is like being in an office with no chairs and desks.

When the internet was set up, we were told by the guy that came to do it that the internet was good and that we would not have issues with their service.

But, just a few days after the setup, we started noticing something weird. Right in the middle of a download or upload, the internet would just disappear and everything that was being downloaded or uploaded would break and you would have to start all over. At first, we thought maybe it was one of those network glitches that are sometimes unavoidable. But a few more weeks, we realized it was not just glitches but something actually wrong with the internet supply. It was becoming frustrating and quite frankly, not impressive. Imagine not being able to even schedule a video call because you are not sure when the internet will disappear and you will be left hanging and sounding like a broken guitar string. But the most unimpressive thing that was happening, even as the internet issue, showing poor service from our provider, was that, each time we called the agent, he would not take his calls. If we sent him an sms, he would not respond. And it’s not like he lived in another country, he lived in the apartment right under ours, in the same compound. So, no response to calls or messages and no feedback about what is wrong with the internet.

Now, on this particular day, after about two months of using the not so cool internet, I was really very upset because it was time to pay for the next subscription. I called him as usual to check with him if they had done anything about what may be wrong with the network. But as usual, he did not respond nor give any feedback. In that moment, I knew we were done with him and his internet service. It was then I sent him the message in the conversation while we quickly looked for another alternative.

Later on, that same day, as I reflected on the entire thing that happened, suddenly it hit my mind how often we confuse FEEDBACK with COMPLAINT. I had never made the difference between the two until that day. And it made perfect sense.

Now, how many times have I, or anyone reading this article, seen other people’s responses as complaints and not as feedback. The line between the two is really very thin, and care is needed to accurately interpret responses from others. Why is this important? COMMUNICATION.

Outside of the fact that a service provider is supposed to, by all business standards, pay attention to their service and how their client sees such service, I think it’s even much more needed in our day-to-day interactions with people. Imagine the wars, chaos, strife and whatever else has happened with nations, families, relationships etc., just because responses were seen as complaints and not feedback that should be analyzed and accurately responded to.

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How many more?

Recently, within a space of few months, over forty schools were burnt in Kenya by high school students. Yes, the reason for these arsons are still not very clear, according to the police, but for the one that can see and for the one that can think, could it be that these children are actually giving us feedback concerning what is happening with our educational system and what is happening with them as young people? Imagine the Kenyan cabinet secretary for education talking about re-introducing caning or capital punishment into schools, and saying that just maybe it will help discipline the children? I am definitely up for discipline in children and I also do not accept sparing the rod when it is needed for correction in love. But the discipline of these kids who have suddenly turned into arsonists must  begin from us, the adults, checking to see what is wrong with the foundations we are laying for them.

We must pay attention to whether what they are expressing is not just a tendency to burn dormitories, but actually feedback for what they are going through that we are not paying attention to. In a video we did recently, we shared a story of how some teenage school girls shared with a counselor how they were sexually defiled by their biological fathers and their male cousins. So, how many more of these abominable acts must happen before we realize that what we call indiscipline and complaints are actually feedback to us to do something? How many more of our young girls will cut short their educational pursuits due to teenage pregnancy and just because we refuse to listen to their feedback when they speak of not having sanitary towels, for which they slept with that young man just to get some money.

How many more of our beautiful Afrikan women will we lose to domestic violence simply because  we refuse to listen to their feedback when they speak of how they are handled at home, while telling them that they should stay in their marriages because “God hates” divorce? How many more of our policemen must go on shooting sprees and then commit suicide because we are refusing to listen to their feedback?

We must open our eyes and see that our societies are under siege, and if we do not do something about it, we will have no sane society to live in some years from now. For when we see genuine responses as complaints that irritate us, and not feedback that should make us do something, we open the door for evil to thrive in our societies.

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