LISTEN. The Encarta Dictionary defines the word listen as: to concentrate on hearing somebody or something.
How well do you listen? Great listening skills are an important quality for each of us. In business, the effort you take in listening will have a direct impact on the success of your own career as well as the overall success of your company.
How well do you listen to your customers? In business, customers are king. Without them, well you know … there would be no business. Are you talking and listening to your customers? You will be amazed at the incredible insights they will provide which will directly impact your company’s success. Perhaps you already have a mechanism for gathering customer feedback. Or, perhaps you are just now getting input from your customers for the very first time. Either way, as you embark to get customer feedback, make sure you are really listening. I offer a few principles to improve your listening using the acronym of L.I.S.T.E.N.
L. Learn – Do you love to learn? Most of us do. It’s not hard to argue that active listening equals learning. Listening to your customers provides the opportunity to learn about their needs, issues, and wants. In business, you don’t need to figure out all the answers. By listening to your customers you will be amazed at what you will discover from them that will help you. Listen and learn.
I. Involve – When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a customer? Don’t be afraid to ask how things are going, what issues keep them up at night, as well as, what are their immediate needs and challenges. Incorporate customer feedback as part of your business strategy. Involve your customers.
S. Seek – Change the way you listen. Steven R. Covey coined a famous quote “Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Most people listen, not with the intent to understand, but with the intent to reply.” Does this message apply to you? Change the way you listen. Seek to understand.
T. Trust - Trust is essential to maintain a positive and open partnership. Maintaining confidentiality, respect and an open-mind are all key aspects to improving conversation. Build trust.
E. Engage – Listen with enthusiasm. In your conversations, be sure there is a connection in the conversation. Are you relating to them and what they are saying? It’s easy to distinguish between passive listening and engaged listening. Be engaged.
N. Notice – Listen both verbally and non-verbally. Notice, what are they saying and what they are not saying. Pay attention to important non-verbal cues to get the full understanding. Fully notice.
Next time you have the opportunity to listen to your customers, I urge you to consider these six principles. You might find yourself really hearing your customers for the very first time.