Given half a chance, people will lie about what they actually enjoy if they think they will be judged for liking it. This NYTimes article calls American men out for their clandestine enjoyment of Celine Dion and professed classical music fans for not listening to classical radio as much as they claim. This information is now available because the radio industry is converting “from measuring ratings through surveys to monitoring listeners electronically”. This article made the front page of the NYTimes so I’m guessing I’m not the only person shocked by the news.
This realignment of what radio thinks people are listening to was brought on by a very necessary shift in the method of measuring what people are listening to. For any small business to survive it must be tracking the right metrics using the correct tools.
This is not a fancy or complicated process. For radio, it involved installing electronic measuring devices that accurately capture people’s actual listening behaviors. This can be easily translated into any line of work.
A jewelry store designer should keep track of which pieces customers linger over, pick up, and ultimately buy. This is better than asking people what kind of jewelry they might buy or what they think they should buy. Just measure what they actually do buy.
A software developer should get beta testers using the software as soon as practically possible and see what the users actually do with the software. Measuring how much time people spend on different parts of the application or web service will tell the developer which parts of the software people are legitimately interested in or having trouble with.
The key difference between surveys and the electronic monitoring device is that radio is going from a subjective measurement of people’s listening habits to an objective one. Every business should be honest with itself and not assess its sales in a way that customers are apt to lie about. Instead, the business should aim to provide the customer the experience they crave in a judgment free environment.
Any other surprises you’ve encountered about what your customer actually wants?