Magazine article CRM Magazine

Are You Listening? Whatever Your Profession, Hearing What Your Customers Say Is Crucial

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Are You Listening? Whatever Your Profession, Hearing What Your Customers Say Is Crucial

Article excerpt

LET'S SWITCH things up a bit. You've gotten used to seeing essays about business on this page, especially concerning CRM and its subdisciplines. I have decided we need a change of field. This month, we're going into medicine, specifically otology (the study of the ear) and its subdiscipline audiology.

The ear is a fascinating organ, evolved to funnel sound waves to the tympanic membrane, where the vibrations become electrical impulses the brain can understand. The ear-brain connection can sort through a tremendous amount of background information, filtering out useless noise to focus on what really matters.

Not only can we interpret speech this way, but we can detect shades of meaning and emotion in the words as well. While damage and disease can affect the ability to hear, the worst culprit is not organic but behavioral: failure to listen. If the listener isn't really paying attention to what is being said, meaning and context can be lost.

At some level, every transaction is an exchange between people, though they may represent large groups or corporate entities. Your ears are the most important organs for business--for most businesses, anyway; you'll need to go to Amsterdam for the ones that rely on other parts.

What gets lost when we talk about social CRM is the individual connection. Voice of the customer, or voice of the employee, is often concerned with aggregating lots of opinions to detect trends and problems and take the temperature of the community. Those aggregations are made up of single voices, and what the single voice is saying is just as important as the big picture-- and it's more important to the individual who is speaking.

Examples? Oh, I have a few. In fact, one of them is the reason I started with medicine this month. You see, doctors are like social businesses: The first thing they should do is listen. Things get ugly when they don't. Doctors with surgical qualifications are infamous for this--recommending surgery regardless of necessity, because they're surgeons and that's what they do, plus they get more money for it. My example isn't so extreme, but it's classic Deaf Doctor Syndrome.

I got a referral from my pretty-good GP to see a gastroenterologist to discuss some diet, exercise, and surgery options for my chubby carcass. …

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