Blog Post 3 – Chapter 5

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Blog #3 – Chapter 5 – February 8, 2016

As we get deeper into the course we continue to learn more and more about the groundswell & how technology in today’s world is a huge asset for those organizations that are looking to connect on a deeper level with their customers.  This week is Chapter 5 – “Listening to the Groundswell”which touches on super interesting topics that discuss the importance of listening to your customers to figure out what your brand really means to them.  Billions of dollars are poured into market research each year, and companies are becoming increasingly interested and concerned with what consumers are really up to.

Here is a small clip I found on why marketing research is important in todays highly competitive business world: Marketing Research

Moving forward, the chapter discuss how managers can use technological services to gain insight from the groundswell and how we can use these resources to obtain the most information as we can about how our business is doing, our customers thoughts, and how we can use this to our advantage going forward.  There are two listening strategies that the groundswell says we need to be aware of:

  1. Setting up your own private community – Large engaged focus groups that gives the company the ability to listen in and be engaged with others
  2. Beginning brand monitoring – Hiring companies or third parties to listen and watch the internet on your behalf and create summaries & reports of the information and results they obtain

(Bernoff, 2011)

Something I found extremely interesting about this chapter is how important it is to identify and resonate with your customers in ways other than simply “researching what you need to”.  In my industry (construction) we see this all the time.  You can go online and find out all the information you want, but its true when they say that the people giving feedback/reviews and interacting online are the ones that WANT to – not necessarily meaning what they have to say is always right.  We’ve done plenty of work with subcontractors who didn’t get along with certain clients, but have produced some of our best work yet. Surveys and review forums only tell you so much.  Its all about creating real authentic connections and communities with your consumers.

I also really connected with the statement “listening is perhaps the most essential neglected skill in business”.  How true is this?  I see this on a day-to-day basis in my industry.  It is the key to positive communication and yet people of all ages and all backgrounds seem to have the most difficulty doing it.  And when someone finally DOES listen….its amazing what can happen.  The textbook discusses 6 reasons why you need to get started on listening to your own organization:

  1. Finding out what your brand stands for
  2. Understand how buzz is shifting
  3. Save research money; increase research responsiveness
  4. Find the source of influence in your market
  5. Manage PR crises
  6. Generate new product and marketing ideas

(Bernoff, 2011)

I really like how they emphasize how listening is not something that starts one day and is spread throughout the company, it is something that takes a tremendous amount of time and should become a responsibility to everyone.  It needs to be apart of the company culture – not just a simple recommendation.

This topic can be applied to so many different examples in life, whether it be your work or personal life.  If you take the time to listen and truly understand what is happening, people would be surprised what they can learn about others as well as their company. I sit in meetings on a weekly basis where people are going back and forth about budgets, what equipment to use, whether or not they want to work with a certain vendor etc etc.  People forget to sit back and listen before cutting the person off & giving their own opinion.  Absolutely nothing gets accomplished.  I also see this happening in our collaborative relationships.  Suppliers or subcontractors that we work with will tell the managers information about something or an issue that is occurring and how to fix it, and instead of taking it seriously, listening to them and following the necessary steps to fix it, they let it fly and the SAME problem continues to happen in future.  Its so strange to me why people have such a difficult time with this.  Interesting to think about too.

In conclusion to this blog post, I think the major thing I have learned from a business point of view is that companies need to have particular departments who’s main goal is to listen and focus on the groundswell.  Better decisions will be made, communication will be improved, more valuable information will be obtained, customers will be better understood, and the company will be able to ultimately provide better for themselves and others.  Its not about taking complaints and denying them – its about measuring them and taking this customer feedback as a GIFT, rather than a curse..and this is something that I need to start realizing.  Don’t take it as an insult – take it as a way to improve next time.  LISTEN! The last paragraph of the chapter leads you into the next section which is obviously responding once you have listened.  I can’t wait to read more about this and learn how to respond to these situations and use these tools to your advantage.

Sources: 

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

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