Listening, the mother of all marketing

Last week, while renewing my cable TV service, I realized that I’d randomly added channels that I had never ever tuned into. I also realized that if I were to cut that flab from my subscription, I could actually end up saving quite a small bundle on my monthly outgoings to the cable guy.

I got on the phone with the vendor, but instead of politely obliging and going ahead with my cancel request, I found to my growing irritation that he was haranguing with me and trying to persuade me to watch channels I didn’t want to. What really took my goat was his insistence to know why was I canceling part of his service.

“I told you, I don’t watch those programmes,” I nearly yelled for the nth time, but early morning he still went about trapping me in his circuitous argument.

Last year, I bought myself an i20 Sportz. A great car, great service, but I am totally fed up by Hundai contact centre’s feedback calls. In this one year, they must have made at least 20 calls, at all odd hours – interrupting a crucial office meeting, in the midst of dental visit; in the washroom when I am taking a leak; or trying to pacify a brawling child, at a parent-teacher meeting, while making a pitch to a client, and on many such occasion.”

Isn’t one ‘nine out of ten” good enough for them. On the 20th time, they called, I actually reduced their score to “five out of ten,” and thought I was done with them, until I received the 21 call, last week.

I should have thought that by now, the message would have gone home that I did like my car, their service, blah, blah, but no…..they didn’t want to listen even from a satisfied customer!

God forbid, if I had to log a complaint!

Where is the disconnect?

It lies in mindlessly collecting data, but not actually listening to their customers. The information is piling up at all consumer touch points, but is someone sorting it out?

Great brands listen more than they talk. They are perfectly clued in to the needs of their customers, their deals, business partners, investors, employees and other stakeholders. They seek feedback only once and put it into action. See how Netflix does it. They have a “Tweet me a reminder” button for new episodes of favorite shows. That’s a great idea, because it translates noise into value for the customers. Believe it that they customer doesn’t want to be talked to. She wants to be listened to. And, that changes the rules of the game, altogether.

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