You know listening is a good relationship skill. It's also a good business skill. A recent white paper, What Companies Gain From Listening (PDF; registration required), reveals some of the power of businesses listening to their customers:
Current research suggests that engaged customers are loyal, natural advocates, emotionally attached and committed to a brand or company.... Furthermore, in a recent Roper report, listening -- not social status or relevant experience -- was found to be the most important quality for creating influence (and building trust and value).... companies wanting to engage customers must learn to be good listeners and good relationship partners.... However, while effective listening seems straightforward, it is, in fact, a real competency that companies, as well as individuals, must strive to develop.
Are you listening to donors?
Not just the complainers, but everyone -- including the huge majority who aren't saying anything (other than writing checks).
The funny thing about listening is the greater part of it seems to be willingness to listen. Here are some says you can listen:
- Send a mailing that allows donors to take control of the ways you communicate with them.
- Invite donors to phone conferences or meetings where your work will be discussed.
- Allow donors to designate (or un-designate) their giving.
The majority of donors will not take advantage of these and similar overtures. But they will reward you. Trust me, I've seen the test numbers: When you show donors you're willing to listen to them, they give more, give more often, and stay longer -- even though most don't take advantage of the opportunity you offer.
(Thanks to the Church of the Customer Blog for the tip.)