How can weak signals benefit your business?

As you may have noticed, in recent years the search for data has become more complicated. Not because of their accessibility, which has never been as great in history as it is today, but because of their abundance.

Indeed, today, drowned in this big data, it becomes more and more difficult to identify relevant and urgent information.

These innocuous fragments of data that can be the origin and explanation of edifying events are called weak signals.

What if we told you that with weak signals you could save the world? 

Well, maybe not as much (though? ) but I assure you it could help your business!


What are weak signals?

The weak signal is a concept theorized by Igor Ansoff in the 1970s. Defined as “ early warning information, of low intensity, that may be a precursor to a significant trend or event.”

Coffman has proposed a more precise definition of
weak signal
of Ansoff. He defines it as a source that affects the business environment and its activities. It is unexpected for the potential receiver as much as it is difficult to define because of other signals and noise.

Weak signals can be found in the context of technological developments, demographic or organizational changes, the entry of new actors, environmental changes, etc… and in different forms such as an event, an article, a speech, a question…

A weak signal is therefore also an ability to sort out: to identify/analyze useful information; in addition to an ability to act.

Weak signals: risks and opportunities

Weak signals (FS) can be negative or positive. Their analysis can be carried out over time: a given situation related to the past or present (the “Facts”) or a potential future situation (the “Trends”). The good news is that in all cases ,their exploitation can lead to positive results .

Faits Tendances
Risque Problème immédiat Problème potentiel
Opportunité Besoin immédiat Besoin potentiel

This is valid both for internal use (such as Human Resources, or change management)

Faits Tendances
Risque "Quel est mon rôle dans l’organisation ?"

= conduite du changement ; communication
Est-ce que je peux rompre par anticipation mon CDD ?

= perte d’un collaborateur

J’ai mal au dos, puis-je me mettre en arrêt maladie ?

= stress ; risque psycho-sociaux
Opportunité Comment utiliser mon compte CPF ?

= satisfaction collaborateur / budget formation / compétences
Est-ce que l’on peut bénéficier de ticket-restau ?

= rétention

For external use (such as for customer service support)

Faits Tendances
Risque Je n’arrive pas à […]
C’est dommage que [...]
Je n’ai toujours pas ma réponse à [...]

= satisfaction client ; support niveau 1
Votre concurrent propose […]

= « churn »
Opportunité Votre produit permet-il de faire ceci ?

= formation sur le produit, qualité perçue, support niveau 1

Avez-vous le produit XYZ en stock ?

= vente
Proposez-vous tel service ?

= vente/upsell

Peut-on connecter votre solution à […]

= influence de la feuille de route (roadmap applicative pour un éditeur)

How to identify weak signals?

The most important aspect of SF succession is awareness. It involves putting yourself in the shoes of your target (Internet user, employee, etc.). The two fundamental points in your weak signal analysis process should be:

  1. 1. Make a study on the scope of the events (searches, keywords, visited pages, etc…) that you could translate as a weak signal.
  2. 2. Set up a system or a tool that will allow you to automatically record, alert, and analyze the said weak signals.

Thus, you will be able to act beforehand rather than react to events. Bouncing on situations, being pro-active, pretty cool right?

"Prevention is better than cure"

In contact with your customers

Let’s say one of your customers who is a subscriber to one of your products does a search on your FAQ or chatbot, a search like this, “How do I cancel my subscription?” Naturally, this kind of research gives you a hint about a potential churn for your company. 

If you don’t have weak signals in place for this research, it is very likely that you will only learn of its existence once the damage has been done, when the customer has left you and you are looking for the cause. And overnight, you will have lost a customer without having been able to do anything.

In contact with your employees

Now imagine that you are part of the Human Resources team of your company and the well-being of your employees is a priority for you. During your change management process, one of your employees keeps consulting your documentation on how to deal with a conflict with a superior. This is obviously a weak signal about the probable distress of a colleague.

If no preventive measures and a possible mediation are put in place, you risk learning about this conflict only much too late.

Weak signals are therefore prevention, by setting up a system to collect weak signals you will be able to see the problem coming from a distance.

"The future belongs to the bold"

In contact with your customers

Now let’s say one of your customers who is subscribed to one of your products does a search on your FAQ or chatbot, a search along the lines of “Is your product also conversational?” Naturally, this kind of research gives you a hint about a potential switch from one plan to another, a little more expensive (upsell).

If you don’t have weak signals in place for this research, you are most likely missing out on opportunities. And overnight, you will have lost a customer without having been able to do anything.

In contact with your employees

Now let’s imagine that you are part of your company’s sales team and that the development of your new recruits’ skills is absolutely key to your team’s performance. One of your employees transcribes a new objection from a customer “I already have a ticketing tool”. This is obviously a hindrance to your business development.

If you collectively study how to approach the objection, exploit it and turn it to your advantage, you can help your collaborator to become more competent but why not launch a campaign and put forward your arguments to convince prospects who initially were not your main target.

Weak signals are therefore also opportunities; by setting up a weak signal collection system you can identify poorly exploited possibilities.

How to exploit weak signals?

If the subject of FS is important to you, it is obvious that setting up an Internet site or a corporate social network or an intranet, tools of the “top-down communication” type for your target will not allow you to initiate any FS exploitation process. If some actors propose to exploit SF based on the analysis of clicks on posts / articles / documents, this is very insufficient. Indeed, reading an article does not allow to presuppose in a fine way the least need. At most, you can think that the theme is globally interesting for your target. To exploit the FS, you need to adopt a “bottom-up” logic, i.e. to capture the needs and questions that your target is asking.

The tooling will therefore involve the ability to capture needs, analyze them and implement strategies for each case.

At TeamBrain

At TeamBrain, we have set up these two tools: dynamic FAQ with or without interactive answers (“anti-chatbot”) to provide immediate answers, of course, but also to capture the needs. A second software, which we call
EMPATHIC” helps you identify, qualify and intelligently exploit your weak signals.

Why “empathetic”? Because understanding begins with listening attentively and being able to feel the other person’s emotions by putting oneself in their shoes.

Not only can we give you the means to exploit weak signals, but even unaddressed questions can be analyzed with our potential questions feature A feature that allows you to analyze questions that have been typed without being submitted and thus stay ahead of user queries.

We will soon publish a detailed article on this subject so make sure you don’t miss anything about TeamBrain by subscribing to our newsletter and our social networks!