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Listening is not enough

Companies need to listen to consumers. We've heard this sentence quite a few times in the last few years, haven't we? And the good news is that companies are actually setting up all kind of tools to increase their listening capabilities.

Done! Not quite, I'm afraid.

I’m afraid that we didn’t explain it well enough when we talked about listening. Listening is not good enough. It’s not because you listen to someone’s problems, that the problem is solved.

There are three steps in problem solving communication, where you need to go through:

  1. Empathy: listening & showing empathy is the first step. It gives people a better feeling about their problems. The fact that they can talk to you and mention their problems, is a first step in the healing process. But if you end here, people are left behind with a strange feeling. The problem is still there…

  3. Give a positive signal back: tell people that you observed their issues, that you understand it and that you will see how you can take it into account. At this moment, you take the feedback from the consumer back into your organization. See if this is a recurrent problem and what you can do to solve the issue of this consumer.

  5. Communicate the solution, the status back: let people know what you will do with the feedback. If you have a solution: great, they will love you for it. Implementing the feedback of consumers is of course the best possible scenario. However, this isn’t always feasible. Still, communicate this conclusion back to the consumer. If you don’t give them this feedback, their expectations are still high. They will wait forever for your solution, which will never come. Which implies days, weeks and maybe years of disappointment. Whatever the outtake is: communicate back to them!

Listening is not enough. It’s about taking the feedback back in the organization. Evaluate what you will do with it, and then take it back to the source.