The last few weeks since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as HM Leader of the Opposition in Parliament have been nothing short of eventful. Hoisted to the top despite having not put himself forward at the outset, he finds himself at odds with sections of his own party, and of course the 'commentariat' media who are well used to a system where they are forewarned about every muttering before it is uttered in order that the spinning process succeeds.
I don't often watch PMQ's, but the televised weekly event on a Wednesday has become legendary in terms of the spat between two warring factions across the Parliamentary chamber. The rules of the game seem to be, find out where the opponent is weak and go for the kill. The first PMQ with the new Labour leader was; well a tad different - some might even say it was a 'game changer'.
Instead of party political questions we were treated to a range of direct questions from some members of the public who had responded to a request. Storytelling was the name of the new game; we heard about hardships and difficulties from Gail and Stephen and a few others.
The opposition were forced into playing the new game; polite responses to those who had asked, without the sarcasm and sneering so often used. Will it last? Who knows; I suspect not as the real big issues start to bite.
PMQ's are like many Board meetings of large corporations where the agenda is carefully chosen to ensure that X wins the investment over Y and there is a ricochet of items all requiring decisions. Things that fall into the 'too complicated' and/or limited ROI simply don't get a hearing. Customer Service Directors perhaps need to learn a lesson from the new Labour leader - bringing the voice of customers is vital to change the rules of the game.
Now you definitely won't get away with using up the whole meeting reading out customer feedback, but there are lots of innovative ways of achieving the same end. New skills in communicating what matters and being a 'dog with a bone' until things change are essential. Ensuring that you have the correct analytical tools is paramount to support stretched human resource. I wonder for example how the voice of customer played out in the Volkswagen board as they sought more and more sales at the expense of honesty and trust. Did anyone ask the question, 'what would our customers (let alone the long supply chain with many mouths to feed) think if they knew the truth, and how would it effect our brand?'. It's hard to imagine how these questions were avoided, except to assume that the scheme was so ingenious that it would not be discovered.
What's very different now in comparison to the past is that we are now used to complaining and there is an active and highly experience claims management industry, particularly in the UK. Clever legal brains will be engrossed in ensuring that wherever there is cause for any redress it will be well communicated and acted on.
Before agreeing decisions which have a large impact on customers (pretty much everything), boards must now ask the honest questions and ensure that they believe their own stories. A bit of customer storytelling might not go amiss.
Walter Scott’s quote 'O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive' speaks volumes on this. Our own consumer affairs panel with participants including FCA, Which?, FSCS and led by renowned consumer journalist Liz Barclay, will be discussing trust issues and more at this year’s CCA Convention
so time to join the debate.