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Neutral is the new negative

In a world where we sometimes end up only looking at people that have a 'positive' or a 'negative' view, there's another group that we should really notice.

Attending the Insight Show at Olympia each year is always intriguing – not only is it an opportunity to establish new contacts and bump into old friends, but it’s also good to see what developments are currently taking place or will do so in the near-future.

There’s also the opportunity to pick up learnings - one such session was ‘The Hidden Drivers Of Persuasion’ showing how Lloyds Bank wanted to increase their brand consideration further still in what is obviously a very crowded and competitive market place.

Advertising obviously has its part to play - certain touchpoints are certainly more influential, but with a view to utilising them all in an effective manner.

What is absolutely key, is customer experience – the influence of a brand’s existing customers is hugely influential in terms of a positive or a negative experience spreading, especially the means and speed at which this is possible today:

It’s also too easy to be drawn in by what customers are telling you at the top, and those at the bottom. The emphasis that we as researchers at times place on these respondents partly because of the time we have available to communicate the key findings (as commented on in previous blogs, here and here), means that those in the middle identifying themselves as ambivalent, as ‘Neither agree nor disagree’ or ‘Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied’ for particular questions, can sometimes be lost or forgotten.

The conclusion of the session was that “Neutral is the new negative”. Not only could these respondents erode a company’s marketing budget, but from the studies I’ve worked on historically and more recently, being ignored or not being considered in the results and subsequently in the overall decision-making process, can lead to them slipping away as customers as easily as those that have had a negative experience.

"Ambivalence is a little like an insurance policy. It's good to have when you need it, but there's a cost"

Christian Wheeler, Professor of Management & Marketing, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Bringing some of the emphasis back to these respondents (whether it's for customer, employee engagement or any other research for that matter), means that the data is not treated in a binary fashion.

Acknowledging that they do have a positive (or negative) view in other areas of the data encourages us to be more forthright in recommendations to our clients as to where (and how) their customer or employee experience can be bettered, enabling their current ambivalence having a better chance of improving to a positive viewpoint in the future.

Stock image of woman sitting on a fence from