You Just Don't Listen!

I often advise clients that while they can just go ahead and do what they want, it's always good to talk to current and potential clients to find out what they want. If the business owner wants to listen to that and go in a different direction, that's his right to do that. But then, it's an informed decision. 

I get it -- some people feel strongly that you need to lead your customers, that they don't know what they way. And you don't want to try to be all things to all people -- also an important and overlooked concept, to inhabit your niche fully. But a lack of listening means that there isn't the "push and pull" process that needs to be there. 

One place I see this all the time is when scheduling times: opening / closing hours for businesses, the times they have classes, or town hall meetings for employees or recognition breakfasts. Is this a good time for people to attend? Do they mostly do their shopping in the morning and you should open earlier? Is lunchtime yoga actually practical? If you are trying to thank employees or customers, maybe you should make sure they can attend -- is it before or after work? If it's during work hours, can they actually attend? 

I see this often with doctors' offices -- they want standard opening and closing times, with a break for lunch. Is this helpful for patients? Would they rather have evening hours? Saturday morning appointments? And really, I think none of them want to you to close for lunch -- because most patients will be calling you on their own lunch breaks! To serve patients best, we need to ask -- what do you need? what do you prefer? what else could we be doing? This is where innovation can happen, as well as service recovery, where you address an issue that could potentially damage your reputation with a consumer. 

This is where surveys are fantastic. You can offer options, times, prices and a prioritization of needs. You can set out how you are doing it, how you are considering changing that and ask for feedback on any gaps. Don't forget focus groups, feedback events, check-in calls and celebratory events, as well as surveys. Listening offers information for you, but also conveys that you care about your customers!