Why listening to people makes the difference in business

Share on

In knowing as much as possible the people to whom the products and services are addressed, a fundamental element is missing, let’s see which one.


Every professional who works in marketing and communication pursues a dream: that of getting to know as much as possible the people to whom his products and services are aimed. In this way it is possible to address more relevant content and messages for our customers and – consequently – to obtain better performance in marketing and sales.

However, a fundamental element is missing from this assumption: the voice of the people, that is, a true and profound knowledge of the people to whom we speak.

We always tend to pursue a simulacrum of our customer and we do it with various means available: for example we draw on models of interpretation of reality that photograph the state of health of a brand by associating it with ideal archetypes.

Moving from one archetype to another makes the difference between a brand perceived as old and dusty, to one that is instead felt as warm and authoritative, or again as cold and distant.

In this way the concept, the creativity and the communication campaign will go to work to fill gaps, preside over new mental areas, approach specific perceived areas.

This dimension has been enriched in the last two decades by a new depth of reading: Analytics.

Just Analytics is not enough

Tons of analytics have become the new Bible written in real time for millions of marketers who have learned to have blind faith in data, in data driven strategy, in customer centricity, in omnichannel.

All right, all fascinating. But something is still missing.

The data from Analytics allows us to know practically in real time anything that happens on our properties.
Where our users come from, which site contents they linger on, which ones they pass over: it is objectively a mine of precious information.

This treasure becomes even more precious if interconnected with two other invaluable databases: the media data – such as that subjected to constant hyper-efficiency and hyper-optimization – and the CRM data – which obviously is not only user data, but can be above all the link between the digital and physical contact point.

Basically, it’s a deterministic, behavioristic approach: if I do X, then the result will be Y in most cases. Tot impressions will correspond tot clicks; tot clicks will correspond tot visits; a certain number of visits – given a certain conversion rate – will correspond to a certain number of conversions which – multiplied by an average order value – give us a forecast of revenue and therefore of ROAS.

Yet even here – digging deeper – there is a deeper level of understanding that we must bravely try to reach. A level that takes us from the superficial and deterministic layer of user behavior to the bathymetric depth of why things happen.

“With” people: the approach to go deeper

And behind this Why, there is always a WITH.
With people is the answer that was missing.
With people it’s a return to something modern and millennial at the same time.
With people it is the only possible approach to work on the next 10, 20, 50 years of companies and organizations.

This is nothing new: Italian economist Giancarlo Pallavicini already stated in 1959 that marketing is the process of creating and exchanging value, to satisfy needs. Marketing was invented in Italy: then Kotler arrived – in the 60’S – with the 4Ps.

And we could go even further back, because what is the quality of the experience after all if not the concept of hospitality? Which is an even older concept, which dates back at least to ancient Greece and the sacredness of the guest.

For us at TSW, what counts above all is the authenticity of the experience, which is real, not simulated, not forced. Doing things together with people allows us to bring two worlds together again: that of those who design and manufacture products and services and of who will then live them and use them.

Together with our customers, we have learned that designing experiences together with people right from the beginning is useful, beautiful and rewarding for everyone. Because those who design immediately take the right direction, don’t waste time, don’t waste resources, create more effective messages, better products and services.

Card sorting

TSW: How we improve our customers’ customer experience

But let’s take a few examples to better understand what it means to work together with people to build better experiences.

Today there are certainly champions of experience who have disrupted or even created new markets.

Apple, Google, Tesla, Amazon are certainly global heavyweights and certainly also bring questionable aspects to their business model, but it is equally certain that they offer excellent experiences to their customers: in terms of product innovation, research experience of information, ease of use and maintenance, or even speed in delivery and flexibility in returns.

The entire value chain of these extraordinary companies (but we could also speak of Dyson or Patagonia) is built on a continuous process of listening to their customers, users, internal and external stakeholders. In a single word, people.

Today we have at our disposal a great variety of tools that allow us to listen to people, both through what they say, what they consciously express, and through what they physiologically experience, on a level that is not only verbal but also neuroscientific.

In the business processes of De’Longhi or Haier, for example, tests of the interfaces and functions of the appliances are envisaged, even before they are launched on the market.

Large organized distribution chains such as Alì or Despar rethink their online shopping and home delivery processes starting from listening to their buyers: through technology, but also through a large wooden table which, after all, is almost all that is needed . Time, attention, care, but also the courage to change course if that’s what is needed to make our customers happy.

Brands like Pampers, which target an audience of families, work on value creation processes for their communities not only through loyalty programs and newsletters with marketing automation triggers, but also by speaking directly to mothers.

Not just considering them as a target to put at the center of the sights, but giving voice and prominence to their most precious asset in the company’s process of creating value.

What does it mean for a foreign tourist, perhaps from outside Europe, to land in the third Italian airportMarco Polo in Venice – and head towards that enchanted city that rises in the lagoon? What are the points of stress and greatest difficulty that travelers experience when moving through the airport and how can designing together with people smooth out these asperities?

The fascinating and extraordinary work of TSW consists in answering these questions, allowing the two worlds to reconcile: who makes things shall listen to  who will use them.

Intesa Sanpaolo‘s patronage-type activities include an active presence inside the Cenacolo Vinciano: how and at what stage of the itinerary should be distributed the informations that the visitor read before or after seeing the Last Supper in “Santa Maria delle Grazie”?

For the lucky buyers of a custom Lamborghini at the Sant’Agata Bolognese plant, acceleration to 300 km/h with aqua-planing when cornering is actually just an adrenaline-pumping experience or at a physiological level we collect outputs that signal a state of fear, of discomfort?

What does visiting the Borgo Panigale museum and participating in events around the world mean for the Ducati community worldwide?

Entrepreneurs often ask themselves: mine, which is an extremely niche sector (we could simplify by saying B2B), how can it apply listening to people?

And the answer is always: behind a screen, whether large or small, there is always a person; a person who touches and uses our products; visit our shops or commercial spaces; and takes advantage of our services, even when these are extremely niche.

We can think of a continuum where at one end there is Enel wondering how to enrich the experience with consumers in a context of energy transition; at the other end there is Forel, an extraordinary company in Veneto region, world leader in the production of glass cutting machinery, which has the courage to rethink its entire value chain starting from people, who always do the difference.

People make all the difference.

Whether it is the contents for the social networks of an academic institution, such as IED University, or whether it is a consortium of real estate companies looking for new spaces on the market.

People make all the difference.

Even in the most adverse moments, as in the case of another great brand – Juventus – which, despite a moment of transition, plans the restart with the help of its fans.

And what is more delicate for people than their savings and their financial dimension? Many companies in the Banking & Finance sector claim to put their users first, but few can boast the “structural” attention that Mediolanum dedicates to its customers.

This is also true in a sector that – rather than luxury – should be considered exclusive: Prada, Armani, Bulgari, Fendi, Woolrich… all companies that make all the difference compared to the others in terms of quality and attention to detail.

Who build their brand equity day by day with an almost obsessive attention to every little element of their value chain: and this means practicing listening to users by design. The product, the store, the showcase, the ecommerce, the content.

How difficult is it for a fashion company – accustomed to living on the “I like/dislike” question not only about the “it works/it doesn’t work” of the classic marketing of the last 50 years, but also about “how do you feel as a person?” who will guide at least the next 50 years on the markets?

Revolution starts from the quality of the experience

We at TSW are convinced that we are at the beginning of a new revolution in the markets. Where the quality of the product and service will be taken for granted: to win, companies will have to focus on the quality of the experience they offer.
This is what we do every day for our customers.

Share on
6 March 2023 Francesco Triglia

Related articles:

TAG: retail analysis qualitative research The Sixth W approach user testing UX and UI CRO eye tracking usability test experience design product and service design