Posts tagged ‘listening’

The Infinite Loop

Here’s a worthwhile post at Drew’s Marketing Minute about why, after a survey, it’s important to tell your customers what you’ve learned from them.

… it reinforces the message that you care about their opinion, you listen when they offer feedback and you are always trying to get even better.

My thoughts exactly. Drew calls it closing the loop. My only quibble here is that the loop never closes – once you’ve gained insights from your customers, it’s important to keep that channel open. If you let them know that you’re really listening, they’ll be happy to talk more. Which leads to more listening …


May 24, 2011 at 11:18 AM Leave a comment

What Killed The Zune?

File this under “no surprises”: Microsoft is ditching the Zune.

Why? Because the product was born out of a need to compete, instead of being created to meet customer needs and desires.

It wasn’t bad as a device – it had a great screen, and a few new ideas. But no one seemed to feel the Zune promised them anything they needed.

What did the Zune promise? Unlimited access to a large music library for a monthly fee of $14.99 – for as long as you kept up your subscription.

In theory, a nice feature. How do you test a theory? By asking your customers if your theory sucks or not. How many times to you need to hear people say that they want to own tunes, not rent them, before you believe them?

What did the Zune promise? The ability to download tunes you hear on FM radio, and from wi-fi hotspots.

The reality: the FM idea sounded good until you realized that most iPod users considered FM radio that thing their parents listen to in the car.

The wi-fi downloads made sense – who wants to wait till they get home to download music? But Microsoft took a couple of years to get that going. During those years (2006-2008) car companies were already coming out with iPod docks.

What did the Zune promise? The ability to share tunes. This is a cool feature, their big innovation, and it might have taken off if they had done it right. As it happened, they forgot to ask customers, “How valuable would you find the ability to give your friends tunes that lasted for 3 lousy plays?” Plus, sharing presupposed a group of Zune users, and Zune users never got thick enough on the ground to congregate in groups.

There were other problems – the high price, the brown color, and having one model versus the wide range of iPods available – but the main reason for the Zune’s demise is Microsoft’s failure to listen.

March 22, 2011 at 9:08 AM Leave a comment

Customer Listening: Social Media Trails the Old Standbys

If you believed the hype, you would think the only way consumers are telling their friends and family about customer experiences is via social media. Jimmy had a terrible experience with an airline? He must be tweeting about it. Sally had the best dining experience of her life at the new restaurant in town? She must be praising the restaurant on Yelp and telling her friends all about it on Facebook.

Not so, according to a new study by the Temkin Group which shows social media play a small role in these types of communications. By far, people tell friends and family about their best and worst customer experiences by phone, email and in person. As marketers, the problem is you can’t listen in on those conversations. It’s the same problem marketers have always had.

That’s why, despite the promise and hype of social media for listening to customers, it’s STILL crucial to have a proactive, ongoing, strategic customer listening program.

March 17, 2011 at 9:15 AM Leave a comment

La, La, La, I’m Not Listening …

Recently a client asked us me remove a question from a survey. The question was, “Are there any additional features you’d like us to offer?” It’s a pretty standard question, the purpose of which is to engage customers in the process of co-innovation.

But the client didn’t want it. The reason? “Our product development team has too long a list of features already.”

So let me get this straight – the solution to having too much on your plate is to stop listening to customers?

I find this attitude pretty frightening. To succeed, a company needs passionate customers who will become evangelists. You only create that kind of passion when you know your customers.

Another reason to ask the question is to keep track of changing trends. Suppose they asked the question and found out that the stuff they were developing now was not what the customers were asking for? Wouldn’t that be considered useful information?

You can never stop listening, never assume you know it all, or you’re headed straight for mediocrity.

March 15, 2011 at 7:57 AM Leave a comment

Insight and transformation

Years ago I embarked on a journey. This was a journey to learn how to better use the web to listen.  Not to collect data or fragments of chatter, but to very intentionally engage customers in intelligent conversational experiences that provide insight. Insight that drives better business decisions.

Listening and insight. That’s what started me on my way. Over these many years my company has developed some of the most powerful web interviewing tools for strategic listening.

But something was missing in this mission. Because insight, while noble, was still a means to a larger end.  What was it? We use that insight to help our clients align better to the needs and aspiration of their customers. We use that insight to help companies better co-innovate with the customers. And we use that insight to help companies better convert that engagement into sales-ready leads.

But, and the end of the day, why?  Simply to drive the topline?

Perhaps. But I began to notice that as we worked with our clients something more powerful began to happen. I saw our clients being empowered by this process, increasing their confidence and indeed, being transformed as they began to realize their power to become transformative. It’s been amazing to watch.

I have come to appreciate that this power of transformation is really the reason we listen. Listening in a way that provides us insight that allows us to act with confidence transforms who we are and what we can do. This process is life giving. It is a promise worth the journey.

February 15, 2011 at 9:30 AM Leave a comment

Customers Need Love, Too

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Did you give your loved one some flowers? Chocolates? A fancy dinner? If you did, nice going.

But how’s your relationship? Chances are, if that Valentine’s Day gesture is your only display of affection this year, you’re in trouble. Relationships need constant care, feeding and communication. Otherwise, misunderstanding and resentment will build up over time.

Ditto with customer relationships. If you do an annual customer satisfaction survey and consider that enough listening to keep them happy, you’re going to part ways.

Quality matters, not quantity – it’s not how often you throw surveys at them, but how you show you’re really listening, by presenting surveys that relate to each other, rather than repeating the same questions. Do that, and your customers will show you the love.

February 15, 2011 at 8:17 AM Leave a comment

False Listening

Do you ever get the same survey from a company or organization, year after year? Does it make you mad?

It should.

When you get the same survey again and again, it means the company is not listening. They’re just measuring your answers against some yearly target.

Listening has to evolve and deepen, or else it’s not listening. I was reminded of this while reading a post by Leadership Freak on Improvisational Listening. The nub:

I think most people seldom if ever feel they’ve been truly heard. I believe one of your greatest powers is the power to affirm another through listening.

When I began helping the Portland Development Commission, our first survey covered ground that the participants were used to, since we needed to start somewhere. The members practically threw tomatoes at us. We planned two more surveys, and everyone was convinced they’d be terrible.

In fact, members got a shock: the 2nd survey took into account what we learned from the first. The third was smarter than the second. As a result, they bought into the process and made it theirs. Because we were seen to be listening and learning, we earned the commitment of the members.

So, if you’re tempted to throw out the same old survey, remember what your respondents are thinking: “If you’re not listening, then why am I speaking to you?”

If listening doesn’t change the relationship, it’s not a real relationship.

December 7, 2010 at 6:00 PM 1 comment

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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters