There’s a saying that I come back to quite often – “If you want someone to listen, you have to start the conversation”.
I was recently highly amused to see a man from Birmingham has taken that advice and gone ahead and started a very loud conversation.
Last month a man named “Callum Reed” took out a full page ad in The Times of London -displaying an open letter “to anyone who would listen”.
Before we get up in arms about the rarity of an opinion so strong that a person would willingly pay for a full page ad just to share it – Callum, it seems, was a fictional character dreamed up by the marketing team at SAP/Qualitrics.
Marketing ploy or not, the theme of the letter still resonated with me and I thought about why.
Expressing his frustration about constantly being asked for feedback and then having that feedback go nowhere, and highlighting details about common consumer frustrations, were really very relatable. I feel we’ve all had a less than stellar experience with giving feedback on the hopes of improvement, and being disappointed to see it fall on deaf ears.
The truth he exposed is that there is just no room for these very human experiences in the feedback machine that big companies often engage, just to allow them to tick the box of “listening to the customer”.
And yet, these crucial human experiences are the very things that companies need to understand if they are truly going to be customer centric.
I felt an urge to respond to this letter, marketing trickery or not, because while Callum wasn’t real in this instance – I know from experience that for every big company asking for feedback, there are plenty of “Callum Reed’s” attempting to find someone to listen.
Big Ears is leading the charge to enable these human experiences to be shared (and not squeezed out) and for them to be central to a feedback programme where the agenda is driven by the customer.
The customer should get to choose what they give feedback on, because well – it’s about THEM and their experience, and it shouldn’t be about the company trying to check off KPI’s.
Have a read of the original letter and our response and learn how we tackle the “feedback machine” on a daily basis.
An open letter to Callum Reed, aged 36, from Birmingham, and anyone who will listen.
We hear you! And you’re spot on! Not many organisations are actually listening to your feedback. And if they are not listening – how can they treat you as an individual? You and millions of others have experiences with organisations that if shared, could help them to be better. But the “feedback machine” takes your suggestions and experiences and processes them into data that can be charted on a dashboard. And the people making decisions for an organisation rarely have visibility beyond that. So your messages, which resonate with so many of us, about fish and chip forks, hand sanitisers at petrol stations and annoying airline charges, get lost or diluted in that process.
It’s a pity you felt you had to take out a full page ad in The Times just to be heard, but it worked…..we’re writing to you all the way from Wellington, NZ, to let you know that we’ve got this. Our tools and methods enable organisations to listen to their customers, to listen to them as individuals. And we want you to know that there are a small but growing number of organisations with big ears and big hearts who are listening to their customers. Really listening. To their voices. Sharing their stories, understanding their unique perspectives and responding with empathy.
It takes an empathetic and visionary organisation to put the qual before the quant. To not dehumanise their customers by reducing their stories and experiences to a number on a chart. And to let customers set the agenda regarding the feedback they want to provide. And what we’ve learned along with the visionary organisations we work with, is that there is nothing as powerful as real voice feedback.
Our mission is to make customers experiences easy to share and impossible to ignore. And in doing so we are changing the face of customer feedback for the better.