As a team we are in the middle of a culture shift— moving from reactive decision-making (the “solve” side of a problem) to proactive decision-making (the “resolve” side of a problem), hopefully heading off problems before they occur. One thing, however, hasn’t changed—our pursuit to achieve 100% customer satisfaction by delivering an experience so powerful that our home buyers miss us after their Customer Care period. We certainly have some work to do, but we WILL achieve this goal.
With every change in process, a change in thinking must precede it. The way in which we see the world and the role we play in improving it changes how we go about realizing our goals. For Elliott Homes this mental shift takes us from the dated customer centric formula;
The Customer is Always Right
to service-oriented thinking in the information age—
The Customer is Always Heard
Traditional business rules teach us that, as professionals, we have the answers. That those who aren’t as experienced don’t. This old paradigm makes us think a title gives us the right to tell others how they should think.
But in today’s information age, the ability to listen has become an even more powerful tool than experience. Agility is a MAJOR part of the world today, and without the ability to listen, we are unable to adapt to change. The ability to listen produces outcomes that experience by itself cannot equal due to the speed of change. Understanding another perspective on it’s own is a serious competitive advantage.
The knowledge gained by listening is then used as part of a proactive process within a system designed to solve root problems. At this point we become a guide leading our customers toward a destiny rather than a waiter looking for the next order. This is because we have a true solution for their needs as we listened empathetically to their perspectives.
So how do we learn to be better listeners? Here are five simple things we can keep in mind:
1. Listen to learn, not respond.
2. Repeat what was heard for clarity prior to inserting our own opinion.
3. Ask three times as many questions as we give answers.
4. Turn off our own agenda and focus on learning theirs.
5. Let the other person finish before talking, and respond with a question first.
One of our core values is “The Day We Stop Learning, We Cease To Exist.” This means to learn not only how to improve our own skills, but also the needs of others. Listening is no longer a leadership habit, it has become a must have cultural habit to truly deliver value in today’s world.
The opportunities are endless. Especially with the habit to continually “Learn” what they are!