So another year almost done and dusted. We’ve left the review and the prophesies to others, by and large (see our Christmas Crackers post), and we’ll be signing off for the year later today. We hope you have survived the year – one of the most testing many of us will have had – and at least hoping to optimistic in the year to follow.
Colleagues here will be chiming in later in the day with their own versions of ‘three things I’d like to see in 2010’. But as Editor, I get first crack 🙂
1. More people thinking about where they’re going. The next twelve months will see the economy (nationally and global) starting to recover from not just a major recession but a crisis of the global financial system that raised bigger questions than ‘how long will the recession last then?’ And this is not the only tectonic plate moving beneath the surface of our daily lives: changing demographics, climate issues (and the difficulty of even attempting to address them, as the Copenhagen Summit has just proved), our on-going love affair with technology and its impact on our lives.
As most of us move on from a year where the short-term has been our main focus, one thing that I’d hope for is that a greater number of us spent at least some of their time looking to longer horizons and thinking in longer timeframes. (A challenge for both for the public and private sectors, albeit for different reasons, as our recent interviewee John Best pointed out.) Much as recovery is welcome – relief is a natural human response – more people probing what ‘business as usual’ might evolve into would be welcome. (Nostalgia for better previous years won’t make them return, after all: life’s uni-directional, and we all have to face the future. We might as well raise our gaze.) We’re already looking forward to reviewing Richard Donkin’s The Future of Work to see what he has to offer – look out for our review in the New Year.
2. Organisations remembering what ‘customer focused’ means. I don’t know what network provider he’s with, but quote of the year on customer service went to everyone’s favourite Shakespearean spaceship captain, Patrick Stewart.
Last Wednesday, I stupidly dropped my iPhone in the bath, and my life has sort of spiralled almost out of control. The only still centre of my life is Macbeth. To go back to doing this bloody, crazed, insane mass-murderer is a huge relief after trying to get my cell phone replaced.”
Much as HR professionals need to invest time in making sure they understand what existing staff and future recruits really value (and what really annoys them), more companies taking an interest in listening to customers – whether we’re talking B2B or B2C – and taking stock of their actual reactions would be welcome.
There are too many companies – many of them having designed contract options, processes and procedures that work magnificently for them – who behave as if their customers’ calls aren’t quite as important to them as the synthesised voice in their automated answering system suggests. We hope for their sakes that they do record Patrick Stewart’s call – and everyone else’s – for training purposes: if they listened to them again sometime, they might be surprised at just how much potential learning they contain.
3. More people doing this. Blogging, social networking … whatever we want to call it. It’s not just about extending the brand, or demonstrating the values – although it can certainly be. It can be about any number of things – engaging customers, showing latest thinking, exploring ideas with a wider community, engaging staff in communicating about values, products, services. Or just showing that there are living breathing people inside organisations as well as outside. You’d be surprised how well that can work, and how positively even battled-hardened social marketers respond to it – as the Brains on Fire blog recently commented:
I applaud Ford for putting a person front and center. So many brands are just jumping on the social media bandwagon without a strategy. But Ford has one and in my humble opinion they are being pretty true to it: Ford simply wants to “humanize the brand”. Second time I have repeated that here because, I love the simplicity of that. And because I know this; people trust people. People who make and keep promises.”
Which takes us back to point 2, I guess. So I’ll sign off, wish everyone the best of the season (thank you for reading, and we hope to have the pleasure of your digital company again next year), and hope that some of you will share my hopes for Point 1 – and act on them in the year to come.