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Shut Up And Listen; A Tale Of The $180m Customer Services Mistake

As Client Services Manager at Intergage I am often the first point of contact for customers. Having completed my training/induction period in December I have spent the last 4 months out and about visiting our customers.

This exercise has been invaluable in helping me to gain an understanding of our client’s businesses and how Intergage can help them to achieve their goals.

During these visits I am very conscious of my natural tendency to talk too much and have to remind myself of the advice given to me by one of my first sales managers many years ago which was to “Shut up and Listen”.

The Solution Often Lies In The Conversation

Listen-April-30This doesn’t mean that you need to be silent; it just means that you need to keep an open mind and hear your customers’ needs without any biases of your own. The solution often lies in the conversation you have with your customer, but we often miss it because we are not listening carefully enough.

Listening carefully has always been good advice but with the rise of social media it has become even more important. Now, your customers are on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, TripAdvisor and many other networks; so, are you listening to them?

Turning A Negative into a Positive

So many businesses believe they are great at social media, they post regular updates about their own business but are they listening to what their customers are saying about them? Are they responding in the correct manner and dealing with issues as soon as they arise?

Even negative feedback can be turned into a positive if it is handled in the correct manner and positive feedback can be amplified.

There are many examples of how customer feedback can be handled badly but my personal favourite is the story of Musician Dave Carroll and his complaint against United Airlines.

Guitar-April-30Dave Carroll vs. United Airlines

In 2009 Dave claimed that his $1200 guitar was broken while in United Airlines’ custody. He tried to claim compensation from United Airlines but was refused because he had failed to submit his claim within 24 hours. Having exhausted all conventional channels Dave decided to try a different approach.

He composed a trio of songs entitled “United Breaks Guitars” and he even created a music video to accompany them. The video was posted on YouTube on July 6, 2009.

It amassed 150,000 views within one day and four days later United Airlines stock price had dropped by 10% costing stockholders over $180 million in value. At the time of writing this blog, the video has almost 15 million views!

Listen To Your Customers

So, listen to your customers wherever they choose to voice their opinion and take appropriate action to make sure that issues are resolved, praise is acknowledged and customers are valued.

I think the best quote on the subject is from Stephen Covey who said “Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply”.

All too often we are so concerned with our reply that we don’t take the time to listen and fully understand the question.

Get in Touch!

I will continue to spend time out of the office and look forward to meeting (and listening to) more of our clients. If you haven’t met me yet and would like me to call on you, call me on 01202 684 009 or contact us online here.

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