When was the last time you talked directly with one of your clients or customers to determine what they really think of your service or product? Not just looking over survey results or a quick glance at online responses, but an actual conversation that requires listening and assessment?
Talking with customers takes a certain degree of fortitude.
You must prepare yourself to learn the truth, both the good and bad. And you must be courageous enough to probe and ask for more information, as opposed to interrupting and becoming defensive if what you are learning is not exactly what you want to hear.
But listening is worth the time — and the pain it sometimes requires. And the payoff, those lessons you learn from your customers, is invaluable.
The power of listening
Noted psychologist Carl Rogers, in a classic Harvard Business Review paper that was published more than a half-century ago, theorized that when speakers feel that listeners are being attentive and non-judgmental, they relax and share their feelings and thoughts without worrying about what listeners think of them.
In short, when you actively listen, the other guy or gal will open up and tell you what they really think.
Some behavior specialists call it “active listening.” It’s a skill, however, that requires concentration and discipline.
Elle Kaplan, a highly successful self-made entrepreneur and founder of Lexion Capital, sums up active listening — and its benefits — nicely in her blog on Medium.
So how do you get your customers to open up?
Reaching out to your customers can be as easy as making a phone call or sending a customer an email indicating that you are eager to get their opinion or thoughts on a particular topic.
Simply contacting your customer and asking for their point of view is empowering and can set the stage for a conversation that will give you insights that may surprise you.
A few years ago, entrepreneurial writer John Hall contributed a meaningful article to Forbes that provides a useful outline to have more meaningful conversations.
How to become a better listener
Well…start by putting yourself in listen mode. For many leaders, this is very challenging, because successful people are accustomed to giving orders and providing direction.
The Positivity Blog, in a recent article by Henrik Edberg, lists ten simple steps to becoming a better listener:
1. Keep in mind: listening is win/win.
2. Tell yourself that you’ll tell someone else about this conversation.
3. Maintain eye contact (if you are talking face-to-face).
4. Put the smart phone aside.
5. Summarize what the other person says.
6. Ask, instead of trying to mind-read.
7.Get some fresh air or exercise (i.e., fatigue can lead to poor listening)
8. When you listen, just listen.
9. Be honest about your current limitations.
10 Share what you have done in a similar situation.
We recognize that all these tips may not be just right for you, but the general theme is accurate.
Listening requires a willingness to stop talking and actually listen to what someone else is telling you.
Talk to us …and find out how well we listen.
At Wellons Communications, we pride ourselves on seeking to be great listeners.
What we know about our Orlando marketing agency clients and what they are trying to achieve with their product or service is a direct reflection of what they tell us. And the only way we can learn about what they do — and what they want to do — is to listen.
Give us a call. Tell us your story. Let us hear where you want your business to be and what you want to achieve.
At our Orlando PR firm, we’re ready to listen. And the more you talk, the more we will listen. And the more we listen, the more we learn…and the more we can do on your behalf.
We’ll be listening for your call and watching for your email.