Does the title sound a little off to you? No worries, let me walk you through this ..
- Questions to ask yourself:
Who decides what your brand is?
In fact, your brand is whatever your customers say it is. Furthermore, customers decide on it via the groundswell where they have a free space to communicate with each other and present their opinion. Oh yeah… brands belong to customers not companies. So, if we agree on this point, then how do you find out what your customers think of the brand you are offering them? Listening is the answer..
What do we mean by listening?
Listening is not only essential for the success of a company, its also expensive. Are you confused? Don’t be… its just called market research. Although companies invest in Syndicated research but that’s not enough because it doesn’t tell you what people are thinking. Some of you might say well how about surveys? Well designed surveys will answer any question you need, but they can’t tell you what are the things that you did not think of. And who knows whether you thought of the most important points or you missed some? Thus, those tools are created to answer questions, not to dive into customers perceptions. With that said, consumers in the groundswell are providing organizations with tips based on their opinions on daily basis.
Is there strategies for listening?
Listening is important, but keep in mind there are two main problems that could face companies. First, do not expect to hear from everybody because not everybody is welling to share their experience or thoughts. Second, once you decided to open the platform for consumers to share their opinion you will end up with huge volume of information. And that is the company’s responsibility to makes sense off the flowing information by:
- Setting up your own private community: this symbolizes a continuous running, huge, engaged focus group for interconnecting..
- Begin brand monitoring: this is done by hiring a third part to listen to blogs, discussion forms, Twitter… then report the results to you
Okay, so we know what listening is and how its is done. Problem solved?
Of course NOTT, because listening by itself is sterile, to make value out of it, companies need to act on what they learned from the listening process.
What are the benefits that listening brings to you?
Listening is one of the most important skills that a company should acquire and maintain. Given groundswell, listening has become easy. On the other hand, choosing to ignore this skill could be threatening. Here are some reasons for your company to start listening:
- Find out what your brand stands for
- Understand how the buzz is shifting
- Save research money; increase responsiveness
- Find sources of influence in market
- Mange PR crisis
- Generate new ideas
How do I set a listening plan?
Note that the starting point for listening is generally the research/marketing department. However, eventually, it will become part of everyone responsibilities. Here is what to include in your plan:
- Check the social technographics profile of customers
- Start small, think big
- Ensure listening vendor has a dedicated team
- Have a senior person interpreting information
How listening will change your organization?
Once you begin to listen and utilize the gathered information, you will see the change in your company. The change is mostly presented in:
- The power structure of your organization. The department that is in charge of listening will become central to how decisions are made.
- The instant availability of information. The information coming from customers will become addicting to companies since its used to integrate the results into corporate decision making.
- It is no-more-being-stupid factor. This is because when customers are given the chance to to complain it makes it hard for organizations to overlook their mistakes. Thus ,stupid policies/products will vanish when faced with highly visible customer feedback.
- Listening wont be enough. While listening is a great deal of having conversations, every conversation needs talking as well.
Hopefully some of you will find this helpful, or can at least relate. If you have anything to share regarding this topic “Listening”, please go ahead and talk because i will be…..LISTENING.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. massachusetts, boston, united states of america: forrester research, inc.
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