Listening Businesses Know When To Shut Up?
Following on from my post How to be a Good Listener- 11 steps to improving your listening skills, I found myself in conversation with a client on the benefits of listening in a business. Through my Digital and Social work, listening is central to what I do and something I’m deeply passionate about, so I thought I’d add a few thoughts down here.
This is a tough business value to introduce, but any business that wants to learn how to love their customers needs to learn how to listen. But it’s not just the customers who need the voice of the business leaders, it’s the staff, the suppliers, the shareholders and the other stakeholders. That’s a lot of people who could get upset if they feel ignored. Or more importantly that’s a lot of people who can be your biggest cheerleaders and will fall in love with you business if your listening is planned, intentional, truthful and consistent.
Before you dismiss listening as something to just ‘make your business look good’, have a look at these killer benefits.
1. Businesses who know how to listen spot customer problems earlier
There are few problems in business that are isolated. Those issues that are out of the blue can often be spotted by people who are looking and listening out for the signs. There are however many problems that many customers face again and again. It often takes less effort to fix things early, then to wait until the noise gets very loud because of repeated problems.
2. Businesses who know how to listen see opportunities ahead of the game
Some businesses seem to be ahead of the curve, whilst others lag behind. Successful entrepreneurs listen, understand and take time to see what’s coming. They’re not too egotistical to believe they’re right, but are active ongoing learners. They’re a delight to talk to, to chew the cud with and to explore concepts and ideas with. As a result they understand and spot the opportunities before others. Get listening and get ahead. It’s not rocket science.
3. Businesses who know how to listen recognise the real needs of their customers
We all think we know what people want. We join dots in our perception from the information that we have gathered and make conclusions based on these assumptions. And as good as these thoughts may be, they often miss the mark. You may be offering a cost-effective service when customers would be willing to pay more for a higher level of care and increased expertise. Spend the time listening to what your customers real needs are, not what you think they may be. Surveymonkey, Twitter, Zendesk, Radian6 and a whole host of software solutions enable businesses to listen effectively. And those businesses that listen well learn more quickly. As well as listening and learning from your customers, you can listen and learn from your sector and other competitors.
4. Businesses who know how to listen offend people less easily
Good listeners build bridges. They learn to empathise and understand what is bothering someone else. As a result they can see the pressure points, the strains, the stresses and what’s helpful to communicate. And when someone’s committed to listening, they are far less likely to cause offence. People who are offended drain time, energy and resources.
5. Businesses who know how to listen build more trust
People want to be understood, to be listened to, to be empathised with and to feel like others are on their side. When a business takes the time to deliver the emotional needs a customer has, a greater level of understanding and trust is established. When a company is able to acknowledge their mistakes, customers aren’t left thinking that a business is trying to cover things up. This trust helps to grow the relationship between the customer and the business and as a result the customer is more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt when problems emerge.
This subject of good listening has created lots of interest and I’m ranked number one in Google under this term. As a result hundreds read this content each week. I’ve written an eBook exploring this subject in more detail. I’d love it if you subscribed to my posts and downloaded the book for free.
What have you discovered makes a good or bad listener? What approaches to you use? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below?