Chris Brogan wrote a great blog entry last week on listening. He had one of the easiest checklists ever for using the Web to listen and research. I agree with Chris, listening is one of my favorite things to do, especially in my work.
Right now I’m helping a Canadian company rebrand itself online. I’m in the best part of the process where I get to talk with and listen to (mostly listen to) key stakeholders and company employees. The account people listen in when I notice two things right away.
First, the account people seem blown away by the gold nuggets we’re picking up. Insights that will not only make our work better, but provide us with smart, long-range planning (which means more business for the agency). It’s amazing how hard it is sometimes to build this into a process when everyone just wants to jump to a Web site build. Production always seems to take priority over listening.
Second, I hear how grateful some employees seem just to have someone listening to them. Funny because they’re the ones with most of the institutional knowledge and direct customer contact. For them, this isn’t an abstract exercise, they’re dealing with both the happy ones and the malcontents, both on the customer AND employee side, every day! To be fair, this isn’t unique to this company; it happens everywhere.
I’d love to have a Brogan checklist to use the Web to listen to employees but that probably doesn’t exist.
One problem is that employers don’t want their employees Tweeting or chatting when they have work to do. We don’t build inter-employee communication into the workday. I think there’s a great opportunity for marketing and social media firms to set up internal listening processes for leadership to listen to their employees.
That’s why I hope more companies use things like Jive Software’s Clearspace as an Intranet solution. Since it has social networking tools built right into it, there should be more opportunities to listen.
Setting up internal Twitters for companies might be another interesting idea. Anything to turn our listening ears to the inside as well as the outside.
There are a number of marketing firms who say they do this, but they’re mostly focused on external marketing and production dollars at the end of the day. But in a time when efficiencies will become crucial who can afford not to listen to employees?
Anyone out there with good examples of internal corporate listening?
UPDATE: Bad chatter is happening online by employees, and it's freaking out the CEOs.Question is, how much? And how do you know it's employees?