How a 3-year-old and a carousel taught me a lesson on listening

About a year ago, my three-year-old got it in her mind that Disneyland was the do-or-die top of her list of everything for life. So she started saving money. She collected every penny anyone left behind and kept it in her special glass jar she titled “Disneyland.” After a year of saving (a whopping $50), we packed up the family and headed to the happiest place on Earth for spring break.

A lesson on listening

The second we walked through the Disneyland gates, my three-year-old princess asked if we could ride the carousel. The carousel?! No way! It wasn’t even on my itinerary, and why would we waste our precious time and money on a ride that you can experience at the local grocery store for 25 cents?

My plan (an extra $10 per ticket plan) listed the Haunted Mansion first on our list, so that’s where we went. If you are thinking “take a three-year-old on a haunted ride that’s going to traumatize her?!” you would be correct. Eventually she recovered and continued to ask for the carousel. Nope, not part of the true “Disneyland” experience I told her.

She failed to understand that my “RideMax” itinerary rated the carousel 2 out of 5 stars and we just couldn’t afford the diversion. After 10 rides and hours of begging later, I finally caved and ditched the plan (never underestimate the persistence of a three-year-old at an amusement park).

We rode the carousel. And rode it again and again and again.

A full one month after the experience, ask that three-year-old her favorite part about her one week in California, the answer is simple: the carousel.

Are you giving your customers the Haunted Mansion when they are asking for the carousel?

Or, in other words… when your customers speak, are you listening to understand, or are you just listening? Failure to including listening to understand as part of your customer retention strategy is just that: a failure. Take it from my lesson on listening

Listening to understand

There is a beautiful phrase in Chinese “ting de dong,” which literally means “I am listening and I understand.” It is very different from the phrase “ting de dao,” which means I hear you.”

When customers speak, it is typically through negative feedback. And that is a good thing! It means they are engaged with your brand and something you did caused them to have an emotional reaction strong enough to give you feedback. So pat yourself on the back. With that feedback you now have a choice: Are you going to listen, or will you listen to understand?

Listening to understand

Skipio specializes in business texting, so naturally our clients wanted our product accessible from their mobile phones. We gave them just that when we created a mobile app within a very short period of time. But we did so with our own preconceived notions about what we felt the customer wanted. We listened without any understanding. The app was created with zero customer feedback or interaction. And they let us know. Check out some of the reviews from our 1.4-star rated app:

  • “It’s as if there were two different teams working on the desktop and the iOS platform and they never communicated”
  • “The program is life changing but the app is horrible”
  • “The app doesn’t have many features…”

We took these reviews to heart and listened to understand. That meant wiping away all preconceived notions about what we thought a mobile app should look like (kind of like what I thought Disneyland should look like), weighted and prioritized the customer’s “what-ifs,” desires, and dreams, and came up with a customer-validated app. We then took that app and had customers test and retest the features.

An app that understands

On April 10 we launched what we called the 5-star app. Is it really 5 stars? Not quite, but it will be. How do I know? Because now we are listening to understand. Within the app there is a Roadmap feature – a place where our customers can provide input at any time. We show what features have been completed, which are in development, and what is on deck. We encourage input and monitor this feedback daily. When our clients ask to ride the carousel, regardless of our plans for the Haunted Mansion, we will make sure they get the carousel.

If you haven’t already downloaded that 5-star app, give it a try and let us know what you think*. We are listening.

*Must be a current Skipio user in order to log in to the app. If you haven’t tried the power of Skipio, click here.

About Bianca Collings !

Bianca is Skipio’s Senior Marketing Director. Her top strengths are Arranger and Communication. In another life she was a professional harpist and is also very proud of her calluses.

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