Everybody’s Talking At Me
If you pay a visit to the Cronin Creative website (and we hope you do!) you’ll notice that the first step listed in our process is “Listen.” We make a point of approaching each and every project with our mouths closed and our ears open. It’s the essential first step in absorbing and understanding the needs of the client.
There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of ink devoted to the lost art of listening. Ironically, most people are too busy talking to consider this important lesson.
Tune into any cable news network on any given night and you’re likely to see as many as six talking heads, stacked, like a Game Show Network rerun of “Hollywood Squares,” jabbering away on one issue or another. What’s striking about these group “interviews” is that every one of those pundits seems concerned only with getting their particular point across. They’re way too busy talking, interrupting, or formulating their next response to actually hear what’s being said.
While it’s easy to get frustrated with all of the above, we recently ran into a story in Inc. magazine that gives us hope that listening may be making something of a comeback. The article, written by Justin Bariso, relates a story about Gap President Jeff Kirwan. After receiving a letter from a very young female customer asking Gap to think about offering more variety for girls, other than “just pink and princesses and stuff like that,” Kirwan took note and took action.
“That’s right,” Bariso writes, “a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company with over 100,000 employees actually acknowledged that a 5-year-old had identified a major problem.”
Now that’s what I call listening. Applying it to our own businesses, I have to wonder, are we paying close enough attention to what our customers are saying? Are we actively soliciting their input, assessing their needs, and processing their invaluable feedback? Are we listening?