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Percy Pig, and the art of listening to your community

Percy Pig – what a customer riot can teach charities about listening to and involving people

What do you do when you have a customer riot on your hands?
The Percy Pig sweets are a bit of an institution hence the exaggerated media response to a recipe change from M&S… Even the Guardian’s Food section have gotten involved!

Oh Piers, you’re surely running out of things to get outraged about …

M&S have used it as an opportunity to invite their brand community to form a feedback panel. I think this is an interesting move and shows the opportunity of acting on feedback and hoping to turn things around.

Percy Pig Panel

Calling all Percy fanatics! You’ve probably heard that our Percy Pigs are now 100% veggie-friendly. We know some people have their tail in a twist over this so we’re giving you the chance to have your say. Watch the video, tell us why you’re the ultimate Percy super fan and you could be one of the 100 people on our #PercyPigPanel who’ll decide if we should introduce a special edition Percy pack with gelatine back in. T&C's > http://po.st/PercyPigPanelTandCs

Posted by Marks and Spencer on Thursday, May 2, 2019

What can other organisations learn from this? How often do we ask people for their feedback and actively involve them in producing or improving products? How often do organisations reach out when they face criticism?

Listening matters

Actively listening your community is incredibly important for charities for the following reasons:

  1. Charities rely on people power and trust to generate funds to keep operating
  2. Charities rely on people power and trust to get support for their work, to galvanise campaigners, recruit volunteers and attract staff
  3. Charities should be led by and reflecting the voices of the people they are seeking to support
  4. Charities should be willing to listen to their supporters, service users and audiences to ensure they’re heading in the right direction.

Practical examples for charities

Below I’ve included some practical examples of how this can work.

Involving people when you are creating a new product or service via existing service user groups, giving engaged people a voice. Tip: this can be incredibly powerful but needs to be carefully framed and ensure that the ‘asks’ don’t cut into the other activities (what they turned up for).

Creating online feedback discussions via discussion threads, Q&A sessions or setting up a feedback platform. Tip: be careful to ensure that you engage with and facilitate the discussion where possible so people feel heard.

Involving people when making changes via workshops, online surveys, and testing sessions. Tip: again, it is really important to consider how to meaningfully facilitate this work and to frame it correctly.

Framing matters

Why does framing and facilitation matter? Bringing people together and leaving them without guidance can lead to chaos. There is nothing worse than people giving ideas you cannot implement and then feeling that you’re refusing to hear them, or receiving no response after giving feedback and feeling their input isn’t valued.

As for Percy, here’s hoping he will be around for many years to come.

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