MKT 130 Instructor Lecture 3

Listening to Customers " The most important thing we can give another person is our attention " The ear is the first fully developed organ in the womb. At just eighteen weeks, a baby can identify the sound of his mother's voice. The same letters contained in the word 'listen' are also in the word 'silent'. H ear t contains the word 'ear'. So while one might think that humans should be pre-disposed to being good listeners, the vast majority of us are poor listeners. Active listening without judgement, without focusing on preparing our own response to what is being said, is hard work and requires practice and patience. Listening is one of our most valuable communication tools, but yet, we rarely emphasize its importance in our teaching and training. We all appreciate those people in our life who really listen to us. Unfortunately, these people are few in numbers as we live our lives at an accelerated pace that promotes multi-tasking and limited attention to one activity. Great students are great listeners, great mentors are great listeners, great friends are great listeners, and actually the most successful organizations are also very committed to listening to their customers. So what makes a good listening organization? Many companies have an approach to listening that consists of feedback cards, surveys, and requests for reviews which is more about lip service rather than making " listening " a priority. If your organizational approach to listening is having a complaint dept. for customers to voice their concerns then you are not committed to listening. So why should a company listen carefully to its customers? 1. Engaging customers in meaningful attentive ways builds stronger connections and allows the business to focus personally rather than generally. 2. Customers can see through the usual 'how was your experience' type of follow up and will not respond to communication that is not genuine and designed to serve the self- interests of the business. 3. The closer you can get inside the world of the customer and understand how your product/service is relevant in their lives, the more successfully you can build on that relationship. 4. What people say they will do in a survey or questionnaire is rarely what they actually do at the moment of purchase or critical decision. 5. Customers can provide far more valuable insights about your products than can ever be found in research and studies. 6. Listening to customers also refers to your internal customers or service employees who are on the front lines and most aware of what customers like and don't like. How you listen to customers speaks volumes about your commitment to Listening 1. The environment where you chose to listen to your customers is very important. Burton ski boards go out to the slopes and engage with customers about their product performance. This allows them to receive fresh relevant feedback in real time. 2. Listening involves understanding the role your products play in the lives of your customers. Proctor and Gamble research agents spend time with customers in their
homes to understand their laundry routines, and how their products fit into the lives of families. 3. Pro-active listening requires checking in with customers about their products in a helpful and non-intrusive way. Most companies begin listening to customers when there is a problem, which is often too late. 4. Good listening requires being open to criticism and not just siphoning out the compliments. A complaining customer is an opportunity be better. 5. Effective listening requires procedures and systems for follow up to show the customers you listened and what actions you are taking in response. On an individual communication level there are many factors that present barriers to effective listening. Choosing the right environment, putting aside technology tools, and setting aside time allow us to give our full attention and be more effective listeners. Personally I work hard on remembering the name of someone I am meeting for the first time so that when we meet again I address him or her by their name. When someone says I can't believe you remembered my name, they are really saying thank you for considering me as important. Remember, we live in a time when companies know us more by our account numbers, our purchasing habits, our credit history, etc., but seem to know so little about us as people. We also live in a world of many distractions and many platforms competing for our attention, and so good listening habits require personal commitment and discipline. Chapter 3 in our Text Book also offers suggestions and practices that promote better listening habits. Key Takeaways Listening is not something you talk about doing - It is something you do. Companies gain very valuable insights from listening to customers. Companies should be listening to internal customers (service employees) because they are closest to their external customers. Thank You . mf
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