Imagine you lined up all the people in your life who you really valued and said, ‘please write down everything you wanted to say about me but you didn’t think you could. Hit me with it – the good, bad and the ugly – go!’
That’s what it felt like when we recently underwent our customer experience survey. When it was suggested we do one, the rational side of me said, ‘yes, that is a great idea’, and the other side of me screamed in horror.
Asking for feedback in this way is inviting the people we serve, to provide a service back to us.
It isn’t easy. We’ve done it before and I can tell you it doesn’t get any easier, however, it does become more valuable.
The nuggets of gold we found amongst our responses will have a direct impact on the priorities of the future. And we know that when we implement our new informed plans, it will make us better at what we do.
This experience got me thinking about how we collect information about who we want to do business with. In the era of digital marketing and social media we know more about our customers’ habits and behaviours than ever before; however, does that mean we understand them or, know what they are truly thinking and feeling? When was the last time you asked and not assumed, what someone actually thought?
The growing focus on the metrics of communications (the number of likes, the number of group members etc.) without a good conversation about ‘what does it all mean?’ doesn’t support the core reason business communication exists – to develop effective, informed and respectful two-way relationships with the people who influence or are influenced by our businesses.
All the avenues we use in promoting, communicating and selling our businesses have merit, and none more so when they are integrated through strategy. We just have to ensure they also provide insights. We also need to spend time thinking about what our campaign results mean for the fulfilment of the business goals, rather than popping the champagne because we got more likes.
Leaders have a major role here in ensuring that their company’s communications activities are driven directly to the CEO’s desk. Because communications is a vital business function – just like finance – it needs to see the entire picture to have any chance of being effective.
As companies grow, and competition heats up, heading down a direction that isn’t quite right can be more costly and time consuming. It gets harder to steer the ship even a few degrees back on course. So on top of your metrics, ask, what does this really mean? And if you don’t know, maybe it is time to line up all your people and ask…