CEO Blog



What's the question again?

Anne Marie Forsyth, CEO, CCA
21/04/2017

I suspect many of you felt as I did on hearing the General Election news - head under a duvet and please make it all go away!  Or maybe Netflix to block out the incessant verbiage from the informed and not so well informed on 24/7 news.

 
The announcement certainly caught many people unaware, including Philip Cowley, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University London who sent an out of office reply saying, 'playing with my kids, drinking wine and reading books - if I'm discovered working, my wife will shoot me'. Soon after he tweeted, 'this always happens when I go on holiday'.
 
Seriously there seems to be no limit to the number of questions we can be asked, providing answers and given choices that don't always reflect what we actually want.
 
Confusingly the goal posts change so that in a matter of months, a referendum is decided on actual votes and every voice counts; whilst soon after the system reverts to constituencies, where voters often feel there is no point in voting as their voice won't matter. In one event 16 and 17 year olds get a say then they don't. 

The old days of a simple stark choice to left or right, big state or not, high tax, low tax have been replaced by a complex myriad of right remain, left remain, right leave, left leave and depending on where you live, right or left, independent yes no, remain or leave. How on earth can anyone make sense of it, and crucially what is the question we are being asked to answer? No wonder opinion polls have become less trusted, it would be a miracle if they were accurate.

This phenomenon isn't just in the political domain, it's become a part of our everyday life where we are being asked to rate every interaction and experience ad nauseam sometimes before we've actually experienced the 'thing' in question.
 
There is a growing sophistication in our market using real-time feedback, and as a result of 'passive' recording, where artificial intelligence monitors our preferences and can predict our behaviours better than we can ourselves.
 
However, there are still far too many ill thought out customer satisfaction questionnaires which are at best ignored, but equally can cause brand damage even to previously satisfied but now irritated customers - a classic own goal.
 
A familiar 'on a scale of 1-10' then reversing the scale - guaranteed to confuse, is one example and there are many more.
 
So, what do you do when c50% say they love something and c50% say they loathe the same thing? Have you asked the right question? Does it need re-framed? Is it the wrong answer to the wrong question?
 
Ironically a staggering 44% of consumers say there's no point providing feedback because company's pay little heed (Ipsos Mori). Based on this, it would appear that the business of soliciting what we think has developed a life of its own rather than being an integral part of a company's operations and catalyst for change.
 
So, whilst we bemoan the politicians and the irritation factor of elections, let's take the time to reflect how we listen to and of course respond to customer feedback in our own organisations, and of course from our employees.
 
Are our feedback mechanisms designed to provide agility, and a smart mechanism for an honest move in the right direction, or are they simply 'fake news', a comfort feedback to satisfy pre-set expectations at board level.
 
CCA Global Standard© offers an invaluable benchmark to drive that enterprise-wide approach. More info can be viewed here.
 
As for the next 6 weeks, well I was going to suggest Netflix House of Cards for escapism, but in all honesty the real life version is more entertaining!
 
Happy voting!

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