Hate is an amazingly strong word.
Sometimes we are conditioned to it, but when we think about the word, it should cause us to take note. By definition it means “intense or passionate dislike.” And if someone uses that word regarding an organization, then it is probably worth taking note.
Super Bowl Hate
I really don't hear the word hate used very often, especially in relationship to organizations. But this year, I have heard that word quite a bit in relation to two organizations - the two football teams playing in the Super Bowl tonight; the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.
It is amazing to me that these two organizations could have such an effect on people - creating a visible emotional response - that they are willing to openly state how much they despise these two teams.
Sure, teams have been disliked in the past, but these two teams seem to really get people fired up. And it isn’t just a single individual (player or coach) that seems to be the direction of all the hateful comments I hear - the hate is directed at the entire organization.
In fact, a petition gained thousands and thousands of signatures in just a few days calling for the disqualification of one of the teams due to cheating during a playoff game.
Hopefully, having much of this hate in the spotlight this year will be a lesson for more sports organizations on how important it is - at least in the perspective of the consumer - to be a good role model for our kids, our communities, and their fans - not just with what they release to the media, but in how the operate all facets of their organizations.
How Hate Affects The Organization
This post isn’t intended to focus on why people hate the two Super Bowl teams - sure there are plenty of “they cheated” excuses - but the point is to look at how this affects the organization as a whole.
In football, this hate is bad for the game. Football teams - whether they like it or not - are role models for children, families, and fans. Therefore, they have a responsibility to acknowledge this role.
Sure, there will always be “haters” or “tolls” - people who go out of their way to criticize what you are doing. But that isn’t the point here. “Haters” and “trolls” are part of business - a part that must be quickly acknowledged and then to move on.
But when people truly hate your organization, it may be time for a reality check - are customers perceiving your organization in a way that is healthy to the overall growth sustainability of the company?
Three Tips To Determine If Customers Hate Your Organization
While it is often important to not get tied down worrying about every complaint or upset customer, it is important to listen to what your overall customer base is saying.
The following are three tips for any business to be able to hear what their customers are saying about them - on an aggregate level.
The first way to find out how customers perceive your organization is to see what they are saying about you online.
This may seem like a basic concept to some, but I am always amazed at how many businesses have not looked up their business on sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor. Even shows like “Hotel Impossible” reveal how many owners aren’t aware of what is being said about them online.
In addition to just watching the main review sites, there are two things your business can do to hear what is being said:
- Use “Google Alerts” to have automatic notifications sent to you whenever your business name shows up online
- Use a social media tool like “HootSuite” to monitor what is being said about your organization - allowing you to reply or enter the conversation
There is a good chance that returning customers like what you have to offer.
Alternatively, if you are struggling with customer retention, this could be a sign that your aren’t effectively meeting the needs of your customers.
In addition, reviewing refund reports can help you determine how much value is being provided to your customers. Of course there are always exceptions to this, but this report can be a factor in engaging customer retention.
Listen to Your Customers
The third tip in determining if your customers love or hate your organization is to listen to what they are saying.
If you end up with negative press in the media, there is a good chance that you didn’t listen soon enough as there are often early warning signs of discontent and disgruntled customers.
The following five steps can be used to listen to what your customers are saying:
- Talk to your customers. While this becomes more difficult as organizations grow, one of the best ways to know what customers think about you is to talk to them. I know of several CEOs that still talk to customers on a regular basis, even though their organizations have grown quite large.
- Survey your customers. Surveys can help provide feedback regarding the perceptions of your customers. Consider offering an incentive (such as a contest) to drive responses. In addition, customer panels can be an effective way to understand the perceptions of your customers.
- Facilitate Online Discussions. Online discussions can come through a variety of channels such as social media or a blog (whether run by the business or owner). In facilitating discussions online, organizations are able to have an "ear to the tracks” on what customers love and hate.
- Survey Your Employees. Your employees are the eyes and ears of your organization. If you don’t have a clear system for moving information collected by your front line employees, this information will be lost. Multiple initiatives - such as a complaint repository, employee referral programs, or regular surveys - can help to create a central repository of what your customers are saying. Once you have a central repository, it is much easier to “listen” to your customer base, on an aggregate level.
- Watch For Purchasing Trends. While reports don’t technically talk, the quantitative data they contain can speak loud and clear. If sales are declining, or refunds are prevalent, you may have an underlying problem that can be easily addressed.
A Question For You
How comfortable are you that your customers don't “hate” your organization?