As a CIO, you know how important communication can be for quality assurance throughout your company's operations. Creating a perceptive listening culture between your customers and your IT engineers is absolutely critical to the delivery of a timely and accurate product. But how can you personally ensure your employees are listening, understanding, and taking the appropriate actions? You'll need to train your team in active listening techniques and convey the importance of anticipating the client's needs.
Helping Your Engineering Team with Perceptive Listening
Many engineers find perceptive listening doesn't come naturally to them. Engineers tend to be fairly direct thinkers; they can whip up a solution to a physical problem in no time flat, but the abstracts of conversation can confuse them.
Engineers want to design and build, and conversation can take away from what they believe is the core of their job. To tackle this problem, you need to get your engineers to think of your clients as puzzles to be solved. Engineers will need to be encouraged to listen not only to what the clients say, but the implications of these statements in order to derive a "solution" – i.e., what the clients actually want.
Emphasizing the Four Major Keys to Perceptive Learning
Engineers and IT personnel work well with direction. There are four major elements your employees can focus on when trying to improve their perceptive listening:
1. Is the customer comfortable? The customer needs to feel comfortable sharing his or her needs with your employees. That means the employees will have to work hard to establish a rapport and a relationship.
2. What are the challenges being faced? An easy way for an employee to find common ground and see the client's perspective is to consider the major challenges of the current project or application.
3. Is there anything not being said? If a customer hasn't said anything about a certain topic, it may be they have nothing positive to say, or that they are avoiding the situation. Employees should concern themselves with the absence of commentary and ask relevant questions.
4. Are you working with the customer? Rather than simply throwing ideas at the customer, the employee should try to work with the customer to find a solution that sounds right to both parties. Letting the customer guide them will bring your engineers closer to the solution the customer has in mind.
The Value of Perceptive Listening
Listening perceptively to your customers will build their trust and your relationship. Not only will that boost your customer retention rates, but it will also improve your overall customer satisfaction. Perceptive listening keeps your customers seeking out your organization as a resource for their IT needs– and it will undoubtedly come up in the form of word-of-mouth advertising. But that doesn't mean it will be easily developed.
One of the best things you can do for your employees is to increase your own active, perceptive listening skills. Lead by example; show your employees the importance of being listened to and how you're able to communicate to them that you're engaged and aware. Over time, you'll be able to develop a culture of listening that is able to quickly propagate to even new employees.