Words are important but understanding what they are telling us is even more so.
These days we are swamped with words – open-ended responses to surveys and polls, emails, social media messages, blogs, press articles and reviews, focus group commentary, and even the odd letter or two.
Many organisations try to get by without paying too much attention to the mass of comment and feedback – but they are making a big mistake.
Politically and socially it is now generally recognised that the population divides roughly into 1% highly vocal with generally atypical views, 10% partially vocal with views that are closer to the norm, with the rest comprising a silent majority whose views are rarely heard.
Where products and services are concerned a given population of customers and potential customers usually segments into around 10% to 20% who want to tell you something, and the rest.
A good percentage of “the rest” has valuable things to say but they don’t have the time to put finger to keyboard (which is why quick polls are so important). The views of the 20% are crucial. They tell you what you are doing right and what not so right, they give you ideas for new products and services or about things you could do differently and better, and they provide a vital temperature-check on your products, brand(s), services, and so on. Given the client’s will, we can also devise tools to get to some of the silent majority.
The customer/member/stakeholder voice can be heard without you having to spend a penny on surveys – all you have to do is gather the data, analyse it, and extract the vital messages.
How much is it worth? How much is one great idea worth? What is feedback that enables you to correct poor service or a misunderstood message worth? How much can you add to the bottom line by showing customers and clients that you listen to them?
The answers differ widely but the value of “listening” usually lies in scores of relatively small adjustments: a change in a phone script, clearer lists of benefits for members, quicker answering of phones, a reduction in the complexity of an automatic answering system, slightly clearer wording on a website or leaflet, more convenient delivery systems for products and services, and so on.
Each contributes unmeasured – often unmeasurable – leverage to the way products and services are delivered or information conveyed.
Above all, users of services and consumers of products respect any company or organisation which not only listens to them but which takes action on what is said.
And that’s where we come in. We can gather and analyse huge amounts of written (and spoken) data and give you the main messages and ideas. Like the old prospectors we can sift through mountains of words and deliver nuggets of pure gold.