How to Revolutionize Customer Experience through Listening

In his 2015 TED Talk, The Power of Listening, best-selling author and expert negotiator William Ury talks about his dream of starting a “listening revolution that can turn this age of communication into an age of listening. . in other words, an age of true communication.”  In order for communication to be complete, incoming messages must not only be received but also be understood. 

Ury describes the irony that organizations today are working harder and spending more to be “connected” to customers. After all, we have access to a mind-blowing array of tech-enabled data inputs:  NPS, Voice of Customer surveys, social media feeds, website analytics, speech analytics. But, the reality is that these sizable investments in communication tools do not, by themselves, translate into successful listening or a better customer experience. Why? Because true listening requires an intentional effort to quiet our distractions, assumptions, and biases before we can truly understand the perspectives of our customers.   

Additionally, customer messages are stored in different areas of the organization with no central location for this information to be synthesized and reflected upon. When you add in pressures of departmental performance execution, budget, and profitability, the idea of truly listening to customers who interact with your team, product, or service may actually feel like a threat, rather than something to be embraced. This is a real missed opportunity for leaders looking to transform customer experience for their organization.

Consider the following three strategies for how your organization could revolutionize customer experience through the way it listens to customers:

1. Be intentional

Create a corporate listening team comprised of cross-functional and diverse leaders. Set aside consistent time and space for participants to turn off their distractionary devices and devote themselves to a shared purpose of listening to the voices of their customers. 

2. Have courage to hear the truth

When our sense of security is dependent on only hearing messages that affirm our own assumptions and beliefs, we may overlook important messages that could significantly help evolve our products and services. Leaders should give their teams permission to hear the true voice of the customer, even when it dissents with popular opinion.

3. Incorporate diverse inputs  

Avoid the belief that customer surveys and reviews are the only way to hear the voice of the customer. Customers are constantly giving us unsolicited feedback, through the channels and means that already exist within our organizations. Examples include customer questions submitted online, comments made in interactions with your call centers, purchase behavior, and utilization behavior.  

Thank you for listening. Now it’s our turn. What are the ways your organization is revolutionizing the way it listens to customers? You can share your responses with us on Twitter at @be_authenticx.

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