Say hello to David Cullen (@DavidCullen57). David is a junior HR professional working with the People & Talent team at Bazaarvoice in London. I first met him about 3 years ago when he was just starting his career. Now, at the ripe old age of 23, he has almost 4 years of HR-related experience across NZ, Australia and the UK, working with a variety of different businesses. Talk to him about Diversity, L&D, OD, and any other exciting projects he gets to work on.
The age of transparency
This is my first time stringing together something resembling a blog. I’ve been reading HR blogs for years now and I’m what #socialHR folk might refer to as a social ‘lurker’: mainly read, rarely participate. I’m determined to find a better term that makes me sound less creepy.
Having just moved to the UK this year, I now work with a company called Bazaarvoice who operate a Software as a Service (‘SaaS’, think a business model like Spotify, Xero or Salesforce) product, and we have some big client names to boot (think Argos, Wal-Mart & Samsung, as well as over 50% of the Internet Retailer 500). We are a company based around a simple truth: when people talk to each other, people buy stuff.
Since the beginning of commerce people have been chatting with each other about what they buy, who from, what they like and what they don’t. Pre-world wide web you might have visited this bloke’s stall at the local bazaar, but then go and tell your mates afterwards that his shoes were a bit crap and that they fell apart the day you bought them.
Today the world has changed. These conversations happen online, and consumers are sharing their feedback instantly and digitally via Facebook, reviews, blogs, and Instagram – to name a few. There is now an open forum and the conversation comes from all directions.
So, where does Bazaarvoice fit in? Put simply, we:
1. Capture consumer content (in the form of ratings, reviews, photos, videos, questions & answers)
2. Place that content where our client’s consumers are (social, mobile, retail, ads, offline, and Search Engine Marketing (SEM))
3. Giving them the confidence to choose our client’s brands
Today, 70% of consumers will research online before purchasing (check out Google’s ZMOT for more cool stats like this) and we know that no one ‘purchase path’ is the same as another. Consumers trust what other consumers say about products & services, more than rhetoric pushed out by marketing. By leaning in to this conversation and capturing this content, brands & retailers gain the trust of their consumers, and this drives a measurable increase in sales. When implemented effectively, our clients have seen a number of other results:
– Continuous improvement and evolution of existing products and services; agile responses to market feedback
– Decreased product returns
– Increased Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and SEM capability
– Increased success of new product launches
– Development of community around the brand; engagement of consumers and creation of brand advocates
– Combination of left brain (ratings & reviews) and right brain (photos and videos) user-generated content appeals to the rational and aspirational aspects of the product / service
I’m passionate about the work that we do in this space and that it matters. Unless you understand how the world has changed, then you’ve already missed the boat. And that means the same for us in HR, as well as any other business department.
Go ahead and imagine a world where employees and managers (I’ll call them our ‘consumers’) provided regular feedback to us on each of HR’s products. Not a tick-box engagement survey that some poor employee has been coerced into participating in, but a public, authentic, real-time, and meaningful product review.
One thing is certain: the conversation is going to happen. Sharon in Accounts just got back from her smoko with Greg from Sales and they were both having a whinge about that new change program of yours. Whether we lean in and capture it is another matter. Potential clients we meet are scared to implement such a solution in the fear that they will receive negative reviews. Don’t be that HR team.
Like Bazaarvoice’s own clients, HR might see the benefit of leaning in to their consumers’ conversations in the form of:
– Continuous improvement and evolution of existing HR products; agile responses to consumer feedback
– Decreased HR product returns (“that training course was a waste of my time, I’m not attending the next one!”)
– Increased success of new HR product launches
– Development of employer and HR brand; creating your brand community and advocates
– Connecting left and right brain content to appeal to the hearts and minds of your consumers
– Increased ROI on HR products
Of course you take all feedback with a grain of salt and balance it. Just because Marks & Spencer receives a poor score on one of their Mini Hot Pies (of which, by the way, 226 individuals have gone online to write a review about here) doesn’t mean they’ll rewrite their recipe.
You would have heard this quote going around at some point: “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is, it is what the consumers tell each other it is”. Does that mean HR is what their consumers tell each other it is? I would think increasingly so, yes. If you don’t think that’s true, then I would suggest you aren’t placing high enough of a value on the power of your consumer’s voice. I could write a whole other blog about the importance of narrative here, but @verawoodhead sums it up nicely in her chapter ‘Storytelling in Leadership’ in the recent ‘This Time, It’s Personnel: Human Resourced 2’ book of blogs by @dds180.
In light of the observations above, it’s not surprising that companies like Glassdoor now exist. Anyone can get the inside scoop about a business from anonymous reviews left by current and ex-employees, before they consider embarking on their next career move. If you haven’t already, go and check if your company has any reviews on there and see how you rank.
We’re living in the age of transparency. Turn those negative reviews into an opportunity to evolve, and to build your consumer champions and advocates. What are you doing to capture the conversation of your consumers?