How to and what to do

Most social practitioners work from a guidebook or protocol or procedures manual provided by their employers and augment that guidance from their training and experiences. 

Trouble is:  we keep encountering new situations and there's new knowledge flooding in from practitioners around the globe.  If we don't keep up with this broader field of knowledge, our customers can suffer.

Learning from science and learning from each other is key to success in crafting social interventions.  Here's some hints to ways to sharpen your practices, informing your experience and your organization's guidelines with the experience and research of others in similar fields.

Social work (broadly defined) has always been an APPLIED social science...meaning that the profession finds helpful knowledge from a wide range of academic disciplines and APPLIES that knowledge to the real lives of the people we work with.

How about you?  Are you seeking new knowledge, supported by facts, which makes your practice more effective?

 Here's some topic areas

Customer delight

Smiling  Three in five consumers are also willing to pay more for a product from a small independent shop rather than deal with a large corporate retailer, the study funded by Barclays Business Banking and carried out by Kingston Business School's Small Business Research Centre suggested.

"SMEs are in a unique position to embrace these traditional values of personal customer contact and loyalty and should build on their natural competitive advantages to make a real difference to survival and growth," Professor Robert Blackburn of Kingston Business School said.

More than a third of loyal consumers said they kept coming back because of excellent customer service and one in five said they valued businesses remembering their usual order -- but only around half of businesses involved in the study kept a record of customers' previous orders.

The research also discovered that less than a third of SME respondents consider retaining or growing their current customer base to be their main business priority to achieve growth over the next 12 months. Only 50 per cent would encourage word of mouth recommendations by regular customers in order to grow or survive.

"While the majority of decision makers do recognise the importance of personal relationships with customers, they are failing to develop their own customer loyalty strategies," Professor Blackburn explained. "This shows a worrying 'loyalty gap' among British SMEs, where they could be failing to capitalise on their capability to provide customers with a highly personalised service."

Outreach, Marketing, Engagement

Money v. street cred as a motivator
There's an interesting study reported in Science Daily that compares the incentive power of money to the intangible incentives of reputation.  Here's a tidbit: Using a cash incentive of $25, the utility company sponsoring the program had seen participation increase from about three percent to four percent. When researchers made people's participation observable, however, participation jumped from three to nine percent. To get the same result using a cash incentive, Yoeli estimated, the company may have had to offer every person as much as $175.  Observability proved to be the key factor in the results, the researchers said, because it puts people's reputation at stake, encouraging those who might not otherwise sign up to do so.  "When people know it's a cooperative effort, they feel peer pressure to take part," Rand explained. "They think, 'If I don't do this, I'm going to look like a jerk.' But if it's not observable, then there's no problem with not participating."  Question for practitioners is how to use the fact of a person's participation in an activity (say, the RHINOproviders network, f'instance) without "outing" a participant who wants/needs to remain anonymous?

 Notes & Links