The groundswell is a vast fountain of opportunity just waiting to be tapped into. One of the key requirements though is something many don’t like to do.  It could be because they think they already know.  It could be perhaps that they don’t want to know.  But whatever the reason, the know or not know, the information is out there just waiting to enlighten.  Ahh the Grinch, a classic tale about a misunderstood loner that everyone assumed had nothing to say.  It just took one person to reach out and listen and my how things changed.   A company listening to the groundswell, I mean really listening is just like what Cindy Lou Who did.  Think of the Grinch as your angry former customer, you could continue to not listen and not have him as a customer, or you could listen and change.  That’s right, I am suggesting you, yes you big giant company, listen to us little guys for a change.  What could happen?

Well you could gain yourself a new customer or win back over a former one. You could get ahead of a potential disaster.  I read in the paper this morning about a class action lawsuit against ATCO Gas (Global News, 2017).  It is alleged that a lack of safety measures caused a house explosion during the relit program (Global News, 2017).  As an employee at another natural gas distributor I would want to get ahead of this one.  Often distributors are confused with one another and while I don’t feel we need to weigh in on this, I do believe we need to monitor the groundswell to ensure our company isn’t getting dragged into it.

The groundswell book offers some great insight into how you can listen. It seems so simple, but it is something a lot of companies are not doing.  I know my company has customer surveys that they do each year.  The ask questions aligned with our required reporting to the Alberta Utility Commission (AUC) so we can be in compliance.  As I have mentioned before, our customers wanted eBill, so we listened and we changed.  The benefits of that listening are still in their infancy, but so far we have made over 4,000 people happy.

There are two ways you can start listening: 1. Set up your own private community, and 2. Brand monitoring (Li & Bernoff, 2011).  The first can be a costly and if you are a small organization, this may not be the way to go.  The second is something that can be done rather easily.  There are many websites and search engines that can provide you with who is talking about you and what they are saying.  By listening you can generate data.  Data can turn into information and information is valuable.  Your company can use this information to do a number of things: change a product feature, recommend a new product line, get ahead of a PR nightmare, or simply thank your customers for a positive review.

So I have said before to get involved. Now I am telling you to LISTEN! With both ears, as I tell my children to do.

Works Cited

Global News. (2017, February 10). Global News. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from Lawsuit filed against Atco in connection to explosion in Fort McMurray wildfire aftermath: http://globalnews.ca/news/3242783/lawsuit-filed-against-atco-in-connection-to-explosion-in-fort-mcmurray-wildfire-aftermath/

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review .

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