In both my books, The Conversation Manager and The Conversation Company, I make a plea for listening to and conversing with clients. Two years after introducing the term I wonder how far companies got in the implementation of these ideas. That is why we (InSites Consulting, sample and data collection partner SSI and the translation agency No Problem carried out a survey of 1,222 top managers from companies (+20fte) in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States.
4 out of 10 companies listen to clients
40% of the companies observe the conversations of consumers about their brand and / or their sector. About 2 years ago this was 20%. Unfortunately the insights from these exercises are not always shared with everyone in the company. In a mere 28% of cases people share insights with the rest of the organisation. In other words: in many cases only a small rather isolated team is aware of this.
69% answer questions, 36% talk actively in the client community
Seven out of ten companies answer questions asked by clients on social media. About half of those, 36%, also talk proactively in conversations with clients. 57% of the companies allow their collaborators (a group of consumers who are actively helping out companies & brands, they co-create the future of a company in close cooperation with the management) to talk with clients on social media too. A striking detail is that only 34% use the proper names of their collaborators in this service, even though it is common knowledge that people like to talk to real people. Making a company more human can only be done by letting real people do the talking. But apparently there is still too much fear of being authentic in online conversations.
Half of them manage the conversations themselves; the other half outsources the job
Half the companies take care of the conversation management themselves, the other half outsource it. The main reasons for outsourcing are on the one hand the lack of internal competencies and on the other hand, avoiding an additional fixed cost. As far as I am concerned this does not really matter, as long as it is done by people who identify with the brand. The best option is of course to choose someone in the company. But the hard reality is that sometimes the people in a branch have been working for a brand longer than some managers.
We are stuck, so the gap is getting bigger
When considering the survey’s results, I do get the impression that the corporate world is rather stuck where conversation management is concerned. Furthermore the research teaches us that it is the strong companies who are willing to invest more and the lesser gods who have no investment plans. This will make the conversation gap in the corporate world become even wider.
If you would like to see all the details of our research, check out this slideshow: