The importance of listening – but not too much

Last updated: 19 March 2014

We currently live in a world that never switches off. Conversations are happening in person, over communications networks and online at all times. We have multiple distractions: distractions such as cell phones, computers, iPods and 24/7 television. We are constantly talking. Even when listening we are continually chattering in our brain, formulating an answer, or reacting to what is being said. Sometimes we hear what is being said, but how much are we really listening?

Any able sales person or marketer knows the value and importance of truly listening – listening to customer feedback, listening to audience requirements and needs, listening to competitors… I would question, however, how many listen and take on board what they have heard?

I have previously blogged about the importance of the customer experience and our focus on making the digital experience both secure and convenient (because we listen and take on board our customers’ feedback). I also think, however, it is important to make sure we sift through what we are listening to, otherwise we become overwhelmed. A Harvard Business School MBA student blogged for the Financial Times with some insightful wisdom – namely to ‘listen… but not too much.’

I think there’s an element of truth in this, in that you cannot listen to everyone and bow to their demands. You have to listen to what is being said, via traditional channels and newer and emerging ones (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even Pinterest), as well as in person, while sifting through the chatter to pull out what is relevant and tangible. We have evolved in our thinking and in our product and solution offerings to match how the world is evolving and align with what people need and want.

Our focus is on making the digital experience as secure and as convenient as possible, ideally so that users do not even realize our presence. Technology has to be seamless and non-intrusive and so are we at Gemalto. But only through listening to what people desire. Through a mixture of communications, including a consumer-facing channel called and this blog focused on business issues, we engage with our followers, listen to their questions and desires and continually evolve our solutions to help them achieve them.

There’s no doubt that listening is important – but only if you can manage things efficiently.

“Insight is not a light bulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.”
Malcolm Gladwell, writer (1963–), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005)

To maintain that flickering candle and grasp that insight that will endear you to your customers, keep your customers informed, proactively communicate with them but always question what you are listening to and how valuable it is to you and, consequently, your customers.

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