You can read the headling on this blog several ways. Firstly, you may think I am an idiot for pointing something out that is fairly obvious. Which is true (the obvious part, not the idiot part). But my point is more about humanising our audience.
Previously I asked, “When was the last time you spoke to a customer?” The reason I asked is that I believe, perhaps contentiously, that we have leaned so far into data that we sometimes forget we are talking about actual people. We use many forms of analytics, surveys, numbers in aggregate, that they can become meaningless. Or, as Stalin put it, “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”
In a poll during the master class, only 18% of respondents said they talk to customers “all the time” or on a “regular schedule.” Yet 84% used surveys as an avenue to gather direct custom feedback. Surveys can, of course, be a quick, cheap, and easy way to gather feedback. But the delta of those using the differing methods is vast. Surely speaking with customers should be just as high?
I fundamentally believe we need to connect back to people, not to statistics. Clearly we can’t be studying millions of individuals. And much of the first master class module was spent looking at building target groups of users. Jessica Parker Gilbert took us through how McClatchy had managed to balance both sides of this coin; their six typologies are very relatable people.
And let’s look at this through an internal lens. I’ve mentioned before that it’s commonplace for different departments to call the same group of people by different names: “audience,” “user,” “customer,” or “reader” are all commonplace. You may note that in Emily Goligoski’s Medium post, she mostly uses the term “people” over any of these.
Several experts in the master class pointed out that showing colleagues some of the most poignant pieces of feedback in the form of a video or audio recording was far more effective than using data that wasn’t always widely understood. Hearing a customer’s point of view directly, rather than product or another team’s version of the feedback — a show-don’t-tell approach — can cut through some difficult inter-departmental dynamics.
So let’s make sure we use all tools available to gather feedback and insights, but not forget audiences are made of real people.
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