Why you should take staff suggestions seriously.
Are you listening to what people are saying about your company? Are you listening to feedback on the service you provide?
The goal of listening to what others are saying isn’t just to hear about what people are saying about you, it’s to act on that feedback.
What is listening?
Listening is being aware of what others are saying about you and your business product or service.
It does not mean simply paying attention to buzzwords or your internalised key metrics, although that does play a part. Nor does it mean nodding appreciatively and then ignoring everything that has been said.
In the last 10 years, listening has changed. That means businesses no longer exclusively listen during face-to-face interactions. The rise of social media means that businesses need to be aware of what is being said online, and responding in the appropriate manner.
This means that half of good social listening is down to awareness of what is being said and where, and the other half is down to the response – and the response is critical. In essence, social listening is all about strong communication.
Why should you do it?
Listening and responding have several crucial benefits for your business:
- Understand Perception – by listening to how the public perceive your business, you can discover what people really think about your products and services.
- Build Loyalty – when you make changes based on what you have been told, those that have inputted realise that you take feedback seriously which will help you build a stronger and brand loyal community. They’ll feel part of your project. This applies to both external and internal feedback.
- Valued Staff – your team are there to help grow the business and put it’s best interests at the forefront. When staff realise they have a voice and they are being listened to and valued in meetings, they will feel encouraged to put forward their good ideas and suggestions. Ideas you have never thought of will be brought to the table, and the quality of business strategy ideas will improve. This is a positive multiplier.
- Catch Mistakes – by being on the pulse you can catch any negativity surrounding mistakes very quickly. By taking the time to personally respond to a client or customer issue, you give your anonymous business a human face.
How you can do it
Now that we know listening, responding and therefore communicating to both customers and employees is of vital importance, what can you do to start listening to them today?
One of the best ways to encourage comments is to prove that you do actually listen. Otherwise known as social proof.
A great way to show this to external sources is to show that you listen. That might be by taking a screen shot of both the message and your response before highlighting it on your blog, website or other social media platform such as medium, where you are encouraged to write content.
Another tactic to demonstrate your willingness to listen is to ask for feedback directly. Have a suggestion board or box in the office for staff or perhaps even have a specified time for ideas to be shared. For fans, followers and customers, ask them what they think and then communicate with them directly.
Here at Office Pantry, we host Honest Wednesdays where we all meet on a Wednesday evening and have a frank discussion about the business.
What difference can it make?
You’ll quickly discover, as we have during Honest Wednesdays, that listening, responding and then actioning on feedback isn’t a one-way street. You’ll find that engaged staff and followers will subsequently provide you with value by raising your awareness to new information. More often than not, you won’t already know about what they tell you, and you’ll learn something new.
I’m sure you recall during the film The Social Network when Sean Parker recommends to Mark Zuckerberg that he should drop the “The” from The Facebook. In that case Mark wasn’t soliciting feedback on his company, but by communicating with Sean, he picked up something invaluable. That is a very simple example of a company listening to feedback.
What we have learned from our own customers since we have started is that by paying attention to the small things, we can make a big difference.
If you get to know your staff, engage with them, understand what makes them tick and really connect, you’ll uncover that not only will they be willing to work really hard for you, but they will also do so happily because they realise that they play a part of the company vision.
In your hands
If you decide not to listen to either your employees or to brand followers through social media, you can find yourself being held back from true success and stifled of innovative ideas.
Listening does not simply mean gathering information and pushing out changes. Collecting information from others will enhance your understanding of the market and allow you to be agile to macro changes.
Companies that are renowned listeners find that they are bursting with innovation, ideas and often even help. This effect spills-over into social media platforms, increasing their virtual following which then translates into a stronger social proof case. And, as people make purchasing decisions on people and companies they trust, they win more business.
What do you think about listening to your work colleagues and customers? What is the number one thing you have learnt by listening?
Share your experiences below.