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In modern business, customers expect you to not only be able to ‘identify’ them seamlessly, but also recognise their individual needs and engage with them in an authentic, personalised, and consistent manner, in real-time. Sound easy!? Well it’s safe to say it’s not. But, if brands were to slow down a little and make sure they have the fundamentals in place before selling the board a pipedream, they’d find it a whole lot easier… whilst probably saving a few £Million and some sleepless nights while they are at it. We all know that terms such as 1:1 customer engagement, personalisation, deeper relationships and journeys litter the decks and strategies that most CX, Marketing and Product people are pitching across their siloed departments today – however, often many of them are failing to identify the first fundamental capability their business needs to deliver any of this…The ability to ‘LISTEN’ to CX.

When I say ‘Listen’, I’m not talking a simple outbound email survey, or fluffy voice-of-the-customer webchat smiley… I mean the ability to listen, hear and capture your customers every move or interaction, in real-time, in whatever the channel, whenever the time.

Until brands recognise this, they will continue to drive a one-way conversation… often like that slightly annoying self-centred acquaintance that never listens. We’ve all been there.

What is Listening?

Many organisations think of Listening in its most basic form… often at a macro level, not even appended to each individual customer. Because of this, they lack the ability to hold an ongoing, meaningful and value-centred omnichannel dialogue with customers – instead continuing to play a guessing game… making assumptions on what groups of customers are looking for or want to talk about – the good old batch and blast in many circumstances.

In doing this, they are often unknowingly driving irrelevant and meaningless conversations, that don’t resonate or offer value to their customers, resulting in churn, unsubscribes and ongoing message blindness/avoidance from customers.

To us, Listening means the ability to capture, in real-time, structured, unstructured, behavioural and contextual data across all interactions & touchpoints the customer may have with us.

Business, Marketing, CX and Data leaders should be thinking of Listening as THE key enabler in helping them;

  • Maximise the value exchange between them and their customers
  • Deliver more timely, personalised, and meaningful interactions for their customers (and employees)
  • Unlock value from their data assets & estate
  • Leverage and maximise ROI on customer-focused technology

With a richer, holistic real-time picture of individual customers, through simply listening better, you unlock a raft of possibilities.

 Where do companies fall over?

‘Listening’ to your customers is nothing new… we hear people cheering terms such as customer centricity and VoC regularly – the difference is the degree to which you Listen, and how actionable you make the output.

For example

  • Voice of The Customer (VoC) – Many view VoC as surveys and focus groups, which it is. But this is basic and only a small component of VoC. If it’s about getting the voice of customer in your business, then surely you should be listening to them in realtime, in any channel, and using this to inform every interaction going forward – along with business, marketing and customer strategy. This improves CX drastically.
  • Shiny Technology – People love shiny new tech – the Martech and data world is full of it. The challenge is, many buy the tech before really establishing and understanding what the end game is. If you really want to Listen, there are some outstanding tools out there… but there’s also lots that sell false promises, or give you the same old capabilities you could easily develop yourself.
  • Data – Everyone has data. However, its often hidden in multiple nooks and crannies around an organisation. If you really dial up your ability to listen, you unlock a hugely valuable mass of data – but you need the right level of understanding and know-how to manage it and realise its value.

Finally – the biggest challenge we see is people not knowing the art of the possible. I’m not talking unachievable blue-sky thinking. It’s human nature, if you’re in an organisation for some time, you often fall foul of rocking the internal blinkers, constrained by what you know and day-to-day politics. You may argue you already ‘Listen’, or you have a very advanced ‘Listening’ capability within your mobile app… but do you? Are you 100% sure you’re unlocking the huge insight and value you could get from it!?

How can you unlock value from Listening?

Data is an asset, an enabler, with a value attached to it. By dialling up your Listening capabilities you collect more of this asset, from structured, to behavioural and customer volunteered data. However, more isn’t always the answer, and the challenge is then unlocking value from it.

There are lots of ways in which you can unlock value from greater listening. This includes:

From a tactical perspective:

  • Deliver a more contextual, personalised, relevant and timely interactions and communications. Reducing the cost of irrelevancy, driving channel efficiencies, and reducing cost to serve, or time to value. (Have you quantified the cost of irrelevancy yet? It could be eye-watering)
  • Empower employees with a richer understanding of individual customers, their relationship with the business, their inferred intent – enabling more meaningful and value-generating conversations.
  • Greatly accelerate and develop a richer single customer view – which far outweighs the markets general perspective of a ‘single customer view’.

From a strategic perspective:

  • Develop a richer perspective of your individual customers (and customer groups), enabling you to better inform pockets of value and overall business strategy.
  • Enable you to drive a much more effective channel strategies – using data to better orchestrate channel adoption, usage, engagement and deflection.

How can you dial up your ability to ‘Listen’?

Before you go in all guns blazing, get a baseline understanding of your organisations ability to ‘Listen’ today. This will help you understand your current capabilities and areas for improvement.

To do this, we’d recommend completing a Channel and Capability Blueprint, which enables you to collate a business-wide perspective of Listening capabilities, including the data you collate and where it is stored (I’d guarantee you probably know much more about your customers that you think… it’s just hidden across your organisation).

In doing this, you can easily then identify:

  • Where current tools could be better leveraged to enhance your ability to listen.
  • Where data is being underutilised or siloed.
  • Where investment is most needed and how this would support one or multiple channels.
  • How different capabilities could be altered and the overall impact on your estate.

With this Blueprint you can then make informed decisions on where you can unlock the most value from listening… along with informing your company’s channel, data strategies, and improving CX.

To find out more or to walkthrough our Listening Blueprint approach, and CX, please reach out directly with Ross Robinson

Headshot of Director of Design and Transformation consulting at Optima Partners, Ross Robinson

Ross Robinson

Practice director, Design & Transformation

[email protected]