I’m listening…

But do you care? Did you really want to have a conversation to begin with? Well maybe not you you, but consumers in general? With all the talks about companies and their need to be part of the conversation etc… I get all that, I’m a believer and everything. But what about the consumer? Does he really want to have that conversation? Sometimes I believe they don’t, or at least not everyone does. Sometimes people just want to shout out, make a statement, … without expecting, hoping or even wishing for an answer.

Kris Hoet
Photo by Joi Ito – taken at the SIME08 Blogger Meetup

It was the Facebook discussion during the Kinepolis blogger meetup that got me thinking about this again, but it’s something I experienced on quite a few occasions myself. Someone calls out for support, feedback, … or complains about something on their blog, Twitter, etc and you reach out to see how you can help. I would say that in +50% of all cases you never get an answer back.

Therefore my question. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pessimistic about ‘the conversation’ and believe companies should do a better job at listening, I’m just saying that sometimes consumers also just want to talk to/about companies and that they’re not always interested in listening to what those companies have to say in return.



  1. sofie says:

    I guess this is the difference between venting and having a conversation.

    It’s one of the many cliches about men-women relationships where the woman starts ranting about something that happened to her and the man is confused because he tries to solve ‘the problem’ whereas the woman just wants to get it off her chest.

    I think as a company it’s still good to check in to see if the customer might want a solution. If not, then move along.

    What are your thoughts on this, Kris?

  2. Clopin says:

    I think you’re absolutely right that the conversation is highly overrated or, at least, not what the majority is looking for. Sure, some people do seek answers and want to know more about whatever happened during that latest downtime, but this still remains a minority. The vast other part is just looking for a) answers since they’re wondering whether the problem is because of them and b) want to have the feeling they’re being listened to. The second part being what sofie already called venting. Companies, I feel, have to focus on the venting part a lot more. Give the shouting ones your ear, something that listens to them and shows that they received the message. In a way related to this, something that struck me as a total fail (forgive my use of popular internet phrases here) was my last phone call to Telenet support. Because there was a heavy load, they just cut off the connection. Here I am, a customer with a problem, seeking help, PAYING for that help (yes, calling support costs money, they still have to explain that one to me) and they just tell me they don’t have time. A simple “sorry, lots of calls right now, WE’ll call you back” gives an entirely different view on things, doesn’t it?
    Might seem like I’m going back in time, but I feel that communication still remains king, not conversation.

  3. ine says:

    I agree with Clopin, on ‘communication remains king, not conversation’.
    I recently was asked to ‘guide’ a company in their online story.
    They wondered if they had to do something with bloggers, I told them I like the idea of Nokia Test Zone a lot: talk with your customers. Let them be your brand advisers.
    Bloggers are not always your brand advisers.

    I guess this is the part I missed in the conversation of Kinepolis: why ask bloggers (mainly geeks, whom not often go to the movies) while you have thousands of customers trying to talk to you.
    Why not ask them into the conversation/communication?
    At that moment it seems like a ‘trick’ to me.

    It is not often one gets the chance to talk with a CEO of a company.
    But vice versa: not often a CEO gets the chance to invite people who honestly want to say something, inform him, give a sign.

    As an adviser, I certainly would have proposed to ask *some* people from the Facebook-group too.

    And yes, I agree, they’re are always ‘ranters’, those who want to complain above of anything.
    But very often, people want to be heard and get a decent answer of someone.

    When some weeks ago I checked a forum on a defect tvtuner, I was surprised to get answer by the company, proposing me to open a supportticket. This support offered me to check my device and see if they could fix it, although warranty expired 3 months ago. And suddenly FedEx brought me a brand new device.
    I didn’t expect that. Heck, it they’d had said: ‘Its broken, sorry, your warranty expired’ I would have accepted that. But they answered, tried to help me, heck even finally offered me a new one.
    That’s what people are looking for, help or an answer.
    They’re not always trying to complain, but also to bring in help.

    For me the web is the best proof of that: billions of support forums where people are helping each other.
    And the brands, if they’re smart, put in some of their people too.

    It when selling is becoming something else than trying to make money, but offering that tiny little more.

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