Words matter! We use words to understand and ultimately control our world. Many companies are looking to the expertise of strategists and forecasters to help them navigate the post-COVID waters ahead. These experts use two words that figure prominently in their vocabulary and thinking: “evolution” and “trend.”

These are strange times. As an optimist looking for a glimmer of hope, I compulsively read about what will happen when this crisis is all over.

Many economists predict a sharp upturn in business activity, the upturn being steep as the downturn was. On the far end of the scale, a few predict a global depression that will make the Great Depression seem puny.

A common theme that I hear is that “things will never be the same again.”

The act of exchanging goods or services for something of value (AKA a sale) is as old as time itself. And yet, who could argue that the art of the sale is changing at a dizzying rate? Organisations are transforming the way they sell to try and keep pace with the demands of their clients, who likewise are changing the way they buy. But as the old saying goes: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Competition is a brutal fact of life in the world of business. It is a dog eat dog world, a zero-sum game in which there are both winners and losers. To make your life more complicated, you confront not just the competition, but rather multiple competitors, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. So, how can you consistently win the game?

Chances are you have run across an expectations-based survey in the not too distant past. Though not as ubiquitous as NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys, Expectations Surveys turn up in a variety of guises – “customer feedback surveys” – especially in service industries such as hospitality and healthcare: product reviews, appraisals of various sorts and employee performance reviews.

The rise in ‘customer power’ over the last few years cannot have escaped many people’s attention. This exalted status for customers is no accident.  Rather, it comes from a hard-headed financial view: namely, when all is said and done, the customer pays the bills.

No CEO on the planet would turn their nose up at the opportunity to better understand how their business is performing, yet few share the willingness to act upon those opportunities.

They say there are two sure things in this world—death and taxes—but there very well could have been a third part to that equation under different circumstances.

In a recent front-page article titled The Dubious Management Fad Sweeping Corporate America, the Wall Street Journal identified some of the problematic details of the now-ubiquitous customer survey system: the Net Promoter Score; which according to the journal has developed “a cultlike following among CEOs in recent years.”

The Art of Employee Surveys

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus is often credited with saying “no one can step twice into the same river.” In other words, change is the one constant we can be sure of. It is not the same river and they are not the same person. Both, for better or worse, have changed. His words ring true for most things in life, in love and in business. Everything, in fact, except Employee Surveys.