We live in an age of instant feedback due to the drivers of changing consumer behaviour that include pervasive connectivity and a greater propensity to share.
We can identify the opportunity for business to strengthen relationships with customers, while gaining precious real time data to support the improvement on the products and services being offered.
To enable a customer centric approach, gaining a real understanding of where your customers meet to interact, both on and offline, and what drives their behaviours is not important, it is paramount. By carefully reframing changing consumer behaviours such as pervasive connectivity and a greater propensity to share, you have an international focus group running 24/7, willingly sharing information that you can access and use to generate consumer insight.
We had talked to an organisation that had invested time and internal resource into pushing yet another survey out to the customer. Spending that precious time and attention allowance, the objective of the effort was to gain a better understanding of the user experience on the organisation’s owned website. While it does feel good to craft questions and deploy a survey (we do care and we listen to you) what was overlooked was to first justify the contact in the first place.
A quick scamper across the plethora of social media channels connected to the business yielded a vast cache of feedback on exactly the topic being investigated. Further more, this feedback was offered up without restraint; some included colourful adjectives, some brimming with praise, all included honest and not coerced feedback. Manna from heaven. The deposit of feedback was huge and all given freely in a forum amongst their peers.
The value of this feedback is not to be underestimated. Yes it can be ratified, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. After all, a survey is designed to have people speak their mind, what better place to find such data than on social networking sites where people with like interests meet and engage over the topics they feel most passionate about?
The conversation is happening now and the organisation must choose to be involved. By either monitoring and collating data to consider and lead to insight, or by prompting the discussion with starting points of view or “what if’s” the audience has an unparalleled opportunity to access a live focus group that converses openly, and with a degree of candour that is unable to be achieved when framed in an official ‘survey’ context.
Want to know what the top 3 issues are according to your customers? Spend an hour lurking on a relevant LinkedIn group, on an influencer's facebook page, on mumsnet, on reddit.. do you know where your tribe is?
Want to know what you did well at the last event you were engaged in? Search on Twitter, find the hashtags, spot the trending topics, take the time to read some replies, reach out and converse - say thank you, ask questions, have some fun while you are at it.
Your brand is not what you tell people it is; it’s what they tell each other it is.
Before the next survey is sent out asking customers what they what like to see change, the challenge is to seek first to understand, then to be understood (with cap doffed to the memory of Stephen Covey). This behaviour where companies crowd-source input is not the future, it’s already here, and you already have direct access to some of the best ‘crowds’ out there.
With technology as an enabler, it has never been easier or more instantaneous to be able to listen to your customers. And if you know where and how to look, there is no shortage of unvarnished truths ready to be collected and turned into insight leading to improvement.
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