The Passive Act of Communication: Listening
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
Did you take a second glance at the subject of this post? I had to think about it for a second when I first came across it in a book by Dr. David Jeremiah. So often we think about communication as the act of telling or informing, not the other side of the equation – or even in the context that it is an equation with two parts.
What is Listening in Communication?
Listening, according to Dictionary.com, is a verb meaning “to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear, to wait attentively for, and/or to pay attention.” If we really want to have good relationships with our friends, significant others – and more importantly from the business perspective – our clients/customers, wouldn’t it seem logical that we actively pursue the act of listening?
The answer is “yes!” but so few companies do it. With the increase of listening and communication tools such as social media or networking sites, Google alerts, etc. there are many ways to make listening feasible – even at an entry level.
As MarketingProfs says “Years of research have revealed that the single most important factor that separates the good companies from the great companies—Adidas from Nike, Kawasaki from Harley-Davidson, Hewlett-Packard from Apple—is the ability to listen to their customers.”
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
So why is it that listening is “the single most important factor” in converting a “good” company to a “great” company? From my perspective, it’s because it shows that the company cares and it shows the personality or humanity of the company. As we tell our clients, at the end of the day, people connect with people. They don’t connect with companies.
By listening to your consumers (and I’ve even venture to add your employees, board, etc.) it’s proving that their input matters. It does matter, you know. They are your business. Without them (your consumers), you have no market share. With no market share, you have no revenue. With no revenue, you have no business. With no business… We don’t need to go on and turn this into a DIRECTV commercial.
Communicating with customers (the two-way kind) doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war for time and attention. The concept is simple – listen to your customers to learn what they like, want, enjoy, etc. and then return their communication with information on you, your company, services, products, etc. that fit into those categories or alleviate their “pain points” or dislikes.
The days of “push” or one-sided communication are gone. Advertising alone isn’t going to build business. You have to hear out your consumer and involve them in the creation of new products/services and in the constant review and upgrading of existing services. A great example of this is Fiskars and their “Fiskateers“. Created and coordinated by Brains on Fire, it’s a perfect example of how listening and engaging your consumers can garner outstanding results.
Where to go from Here
The first step in any marketing or communication effort is do your homework (research) and develop a plan (strategy). What are your goals? Do you want consumer input for R&D or are you looking for general customer service feedback? How will you measure this information? What channels will you use to get the information – social media? If so, which ones? Is the company already on those sites or do you need to create new accounts?
Start asking – and answering – these questions and get a plan in order that includes SMART goals and KPIs. You can do this! Moreover, you should do this! Need help? We’re just an email or a call away.