The Data You Really Need

Peter Drucker said, “In a data-rich world, first hand emotional intelligence matters.” In fact, he considered it one of the important types of data. But what is first hand emotional intelligence, and how do you get it?

The emotional intelligence Drucker described is what the customer needs and/or wants and their definition of having that need met. An organization must deliver the product or service based on the customer’s requirements or expectations, not their own internal metrics and preferences.

How do you get this first hand emotional intelligence? One of the advantages of the internet is the ease with which you can get this information. One example cited in Drucker’s final writings was Apple reviewing customer forums for unmet needs and seeing that one person wished there was a car charger for the iPhone and how many others echoed that need. Customer forums continue to provide this information, and it is one reason why many companies create customer forums under their own control. Another benefit of these forums is the ease of monitoring them and providing low cost support by staff sharing links to support documentation and customers helping each other solve problems. Companies can learn what problems customers are having by reading the forums, and sometimes they see novel uses of their product discussed in the forums that are a potential new avenue to exploit.

Another source of emotional intelligence on customers’ opinions and expectations are product and service reviews. What are people complaining about? Remember that complaints about deliveries and service are things your organization should address, whether it is changing your distributor or working with service centers to do a better job.

The internet has made it easy to send out anonymous surveys to customers via your customer relationship management system instead of your latest coupons and newsletters. Just make certain you give them free form fields to tell you how they really feel and what they wish you knew, not just a rating of 1 to 5 in a few categories. Knowing they are unhappy without knowing the specific reasons doesn’t help you unless you were totally ignorant of their state in the first place. Giving people the ability to give direct feedback in user surveys ensures that you get the emotional intelligence you need directly from the unhappy customers.

Monitoring social media may result in emotional intelligence about customers, though this is prone to sudden flare ups based on what hits an emotional nerve. The social media storms that hit in response to one person’s comment or unfounded rumor are not necessarily something to act upon and certainly not something to alter the functioning of an organization unless it actually is the product or service. For example, the false rumors that a tea company’s label featured slave ships should be addressed by public relations, not necessarily changing the labels in the next run. Don’t fire key personnel in response to the online equivalent of a lynch mob. But do look at viral videos like those of Christmas 2015 trials of hover boards showing them catching fire with alarming frequency.

Don’t forget user tickets as a source of emotional intelligence. Help desks periodically receive requests for product and service enhancements that are not actually problems, but customers don’t know any other way to give their feedback to the company. You can improve this information collection without hurting help desk metrics by creating a category specifically for suggestions and enhancement requests.


Filed under: An IE in IT

About the Author

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Tamara Wilhite is the IE in IT blogger for the IISE. She is a Six Sigma green belt with experience in IT, PDM software, the defense industry and recycling industries. She currently works as a freelance technical writer.