I was listening to an interview on the radio this week about the late Jim Marshall the man who invented the now world-famous Marshall amp. His son was explaining how the amp came to be created and what his father had done. Interestingly, it wasn’t just a flash of inspiration out of the blue. Yes, it was inspired but it came because he was getting queries from customers at his shop who couldn’t get what they wanted. Those customers, including Peter Townshend, explained their problem to Jim and he set about trying to find an answer. The reason why – because he wanted to provide what his customers wanted.
An interesting story and one that is so relevant for all businesses and customers. Listening to your customers is one of the most important things, and while many businesses do it they may not have the helpful approach of Jim Marshall who just wanted to help. These businesses may be providing an answer without really understanding the problem that people have.
The issue is even more important during these financially challenging times where people have so much more choice. If you aren’t actively listening to your customers and finding ways to meet their requirements then they will just go elsewhere. And can we afford that?
This also has a relevance to communication because it has a key role to play. First, it has to provide access to the organisation or business so that people know how to raise issues, but also it has to create a culture and atmosphere where people feel able to give feedback. People may know how they can provide views but may fail to do it because they don’t believe it will be listened to and acted upon.
Communication can help to open up conversations with the frontline, wherever that is. It is at that point that failure can happen unless those staff understand the business’ approach. So let us never disregard staff engagement and internal communication. Above all it is vital that companies understand their customers so that they can have an empathy and understanding when issues or problems emerge. To do this requires an open approach from bosses that don’t believe they have all the answers.
It may all sound like nirvana, but perhaps we can all learn from Jim Marshall who created something that changed the world from a small music shop because he listened to his customers.