I’ve been thinking a lot about this Carl Sagan quote lately as I’ve watched several well-conceived businesses fall by the wayside, others make what may become terminal errors and, our recent election. Thousands of small businesses decline or fail every year. In just the past five years, AT&T, Alcoa, Bank of America, Hewlett Packard, and Kraft Foods have all fallen from the Dow 30. And, of course, the can’t-lose, first-woman president who would ride to victory on a female, Hispanic, black, college-educated coalition didn’t.
Just the other day, Warren Buffet was quoted as saying about Wells Fargo, “Cultures shift. You can turn it for the better or worse by your own actions.” About the election, I’ve heard that Hillary Clinton lost because of racism, sexism, anti-intellectualism and as many other “-isms” that you could name. To all of those, I say, “No, it’s more basic than that. She simply didn’t listen.” She didn’t listen to the shifting cultures all around her, not only to those who worked against her but to those who voted for her or supported her but weren’t motivated enough to come out and vote.
In an earlier iteration of Oomiji in 2004, we were asked by the Howard Dean presidential campaign to give them some insights on why his Internet fund raising was drying up. His was the first campaign to raise massive amounts of money in small gifts over the Internet. The answer was pretty simple then too. Supporters told us that all Dean’s campaign did was ask for money, again and again. They never asked for opinions from the people who gave. Politics teaches some good lessons about business because much it is laid bare before the public.
There are a lot of ways to listen to your customers and constituencies. We built Oomiji as both a listening and segmentation tool, so you can converse with people, divide them into segments and send targeted communications that are tailored to their needs, perceptions or frustrations. It’s a way of monitoring and understanding how cultures are shifting and how to address people who are caught at any point in the shift.
You can participate in an example of how Oomiji works by taking our short survey on Customer Engagement, two words that get bandied about by people who may not fully recognize their implications. If you take the survey, we’ll send you a summary of what people said and that way, we can all listen to see if we detect some helpful insights into our own businesses.
The oft quoted admonition, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” was told to Paul Newman in the mulit-Oscar nominated Cool Hand Luke back in 1967. Yet, despite nearly 50 years that have passed, communication is still our greatest failure.