We often ask our children to “open your ears” when they are not paying attention to what we are saying. Sometimes we need to take our own advice. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what we are saying to our audience, whether it is employees, clients, or peers. We have ideas to share and points to make. But a key part of good communication is listening. When you are engaged in active listening you will gain valuable insight into your contact’s demeanor and business needs.
When talking to a client, employee, or peer, whether in person or on the phone, these tips will help you improve your listening skills:
- Focus your attention on what that person is saying not on other conversations or events around you.
- Clear your mind of clutter; don’t try to multi-task while you are engaged in a conversation.
- Let the contact complete his or her thoughts without interruption.
- Take notes about the key details of the conversation, especially if they require a response.
- Repeat or rephrase what the speaker said to make sure you understood their intended point.
- Ask for clarification of unclear discussion points.
By actively listening you can respond to questions promptly in a communication style your contact feels comfortable with.
Customers decide quickly whether to invest in a product or service. If your product or service is similar to that of other companies, differentiating your company in the marketplace can mean a sale made instead of a sale lost. But how do you set yourself apart? Branding.
Branding is the feeling a person has about a business. This feeling is supported by the way a business presents itself in the marketplace, whether through verbal or visual communications, or in the values it holds and promotes. When a company has a strong brand, people quickly identify attributes such as who the company’s customers are, how the company’s products or services benefit those customers and the company’s values and culture. Positive branding helps build trust position a company at the forefront of its industry.
To build a strong branding program, a business must first recognize it’s strengths and vision. Then, the company should educate everyone at every level of the company about how those strengths and vision will be presented and communicated. Building a strong brand is not just the responsibility of senior leadership. It is the result of all employees working with the same vision and message. The message should be strong, consistent and constant. The end result is a customer experience that is positive, expected and talked about.