Thursday, April 9, 2009

LISTEN TO ME! Closing the Loop on Corporate Communication

One of the largest root causes for many of the challenges companies face is directly related to communication. Companies need to know how to better serve their customers, but getting good data is becoming increasingly difficult. The demographics and complexity of each customer segment is becoming larger and more refined in its wants and needs. The old methods of communicating with customers are slowly on their way out.

Because of the sheer number of respondents required in order to get an accurate sampling of customer needs, large processes and systems are needed to ensure statistical relevance when looking at customer responses. However, the larger the system becomes, the more distanced and less intimate it becomes, reducing the effectiveness of each contact. Potential customers are very skeptical of corporate surveyors who want to know how they can "serve" them better.

Door to door and phone based solicitation of feed back is dramatically becoming less effective. The models of feedback surveys had started to migrate online. Also the idea of a "middle man" or a intermediary used to collect data is uncomfortable from a privacy perspective as well as the idea that the message is slowly being filtered out naturally (rather than deliberately). Also, with many membership and reward programs in the consumer and retail space, many individual customers are thinking "why can't you just ask me directly?"

With corporations relatively slow to change versus consumer expectations, it seems as if corporations aren't actually "listening".

Therefore, it has become incumbent on PR and Marketing professionals to step up the *relevant* communication. Follow ups are required both to keep contact as well as ensure that feedback is still "alive" in the system. By staying close to the customer, corporations can be more responsive and, as the saying goes in politics, "look busy as well as be busy" doing the work they were prescribed.

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