3 things all business leaders can learn from Greta Thunberg

“How dare you – you have stolen my dreams and my childhood.” 

If we were to summarize the news agenda for 2019 it’s probably fair to assume that the Time person of the year, Greta Thunberg, would be a part of the recap.

Greta ThunbergIn the aftermath of her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit, part of the conversation suddenly pivoted from the issue of climate change to her emotional, charged delivery. Some argued we shouldn’t be listening to an angry person. Others focused on her age to justify not caring.

Being in the business of feedback, your angry – or passionate – customers are critical if you want to succeed. I think all business leaders can learn at least three things from Greta Thunberg:

1. Don’t suppress people’s passionate and open feedback

When you meet people with passion and purpose that really care about making things better and want to tell the world in their own unique way, let them! Don’t try to silence them. Don’t try to patronize them. If they’re wrong, tell them. Respectfully. But trying to suppress open feedback will eventually end up hurting you and your business. Consumers want more openness and transparency. Not less.

2. Listen carefully to the things you could do to make improvements

Not listening to the feedback you receive can make it seem like you always know better. However, if you listen carefully to all of your feedback you’ll notice that people often aren’t only pointing out what you’ve done wrong, but also what you can do to make things better. If you genuinely listen to the input and ideas from vocal consumers you have the opportunity to both grow your business and to turn those voices into passionate brand ambassadors. Imagine an army of Thunbergs working with you – not against you.

3. Embrace negative feedback

Have you ever filtered the star ratings of a company or product just to read the negative reviews? If your answer is yes, I’m not surprised. Many people do that. Including myself. We trust those who share bad experiences because they’re looking out for us. Consumers don’t care if you get it wrong sometimes. They only want to see that you listen and care. So don’t try to hide negative feedback. Embrace it. By showing you have nothing to hide you’ll be fueling your brand.

It’s no secret that I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way thanks to consumer feedback (yes, you can actually review Trustpilot on Trustpilot Our latest initiative originating from consumer feedback is the introduction of a world-first feature for the reviews sector that reveals how every company receives and asks for reviews. An idea that was sparked by input from passionate consumers.

They wanted more information about how companies use our platform, and sharing this openly can help everyone make more informed decisions when choosing which companies to trust.

In fact, a survey on our site of more than 2,000 UK Trustpilot users showed that 84% want to know more about how companies use reviews behind the scenes and 78% said knowing this would make them trust those companies more.

Would this feature have been built without the feedback of some of our passionate consumers? I’d hope so, but perhaps not. But they surely helped us speed up the process and hopefully, they can now see that we’ve listened and learned.

And that’s part of the lesson all business leaders should take away from passionate voices like Greta Thunberg. Listen carefully. Learn from what is being said. Act, if you need to act. It can never hurt your business. In fact, it’s the only thing that will truly make things better.

by Peter Mühlmann, founder and CEO, Trustpilot