This year’s AmeriQuest Symposium speakers honed in on the importance of really listening to your customers in order to truly satisfy their needs.
The Simon & Garfunkel song, “Sounds of Silence,” has a line, “people listening without hearing,” which could have been the opening remark for the 2016 AmeriQuest Symposium, which took place earlier this month in Orlando. Each year, AmeriQuest holds this event to allow customers, suppliers, and employees to meet one another; to reinforce old relationships and start new ones. The event also features respected speakers from a wide variety of disciplines to challenge the attendees to open up their minds to new ideas and perspectives.
So what does a Simon & Garfunkel song have to do with this year’s event? Simple. One of the biggest mistakes any company can make is to listen to their customers without really hearing what they’re saying. Businesses that don’t speak to customers in their “language” are losing the chance to productively communicate, and communication is at the heart of every successful business transaction and relationship.
The Symposium kicked off with this message articulated by the event’s moderator, Mark Jeffries, who also noted that it’s important for companies, and individuals, to listen in order to understand, not to simply reply. AmeriQuest’s Founder, President, Chairman, and CEO, Doug Clark then offered opening remarks, telling customers that our company’s goal is to “deliver what you need, not what we think you need.” And that goal can only be accomplished by actually listening and hearing what each customer is saying.
Frank Luntz, political consultant, author, and pollster, was one of the Symposium speakers. He made it clear that words matter, saying, “it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear” that matters. In his book, “Words that Work,” Dr. Luntz states that “the key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart.” And you can’t “stuff yourself” into anyone’s shoes without really hearing what those people are saying.
Max Carey, founder and Chairman of CRD and one of the country’s leading sales and marketing consulting experts discussed how companies need to make themselves invaluable to their customers. Carey talked about how successful businesses create excellence by knowing what their customers need and delivering those services to them. He noted that it’s not the company as a monolith, but each individual within the company that makes the difference between success and failure. But he also made clear that businesses need to develop a great “design” and then follow through on that design with behavior that focuses on customer satisfaction. Again, you need to know what customers want in order to satisfy them, and to do that, you need to “hear” what they’re saying through their words and actions.
Other speakers at the Symposium included Gary Hamel, renowned management expert, author, and Professor at the London Business School; Stephen Moore, former Wall Street Journal senior economics writer; and keynote speaker, Lou Holtz, the only coach in NCAA history to lead six different programs to bowl games. All of these speakers stressed how important a role each of us plays in the success of our respective businesses.
We certainly hope everyone closely listened to each of these speakers and really “heard” what they said. Now we have to make sure we do the same thing with each of our customers.
Learn more about the AmeriQuest Symposium.