Why? It’s such a simple word yet such a powerful question. Toddlers quickly figure out that if they can’t stick their finger in it, the best way to learn is by asking why.
When they go to school, children ask why to understand new ideas. Teachers ask them why to understand their thought process. As adults, we ask why our friends liked a new brand or holiday destination to learn whether we might like it too. Ask customers why then shut up to listen to the answer. It isn’t hard.

Why listen to customers?

So why (there it is again) do so many companies get accused of not listening by their customers? My observation is that it’s because they’ve stopped asking why. Somewhere along the way, curiosity and a desire to learn gets replaced with “we already know what they’ll say” or “it’s too late to change it” or “we don’t have time to wade through the results”. Making decisions based on assumptions becomes good enough.
Until it isn’t. When a business stops asking why, it stops learning. Then it stops innovating and eventually it stops trading.

Ask customers why they leave?

That may seem a bit harsh, but it’s a very slippery slope. We’re currently talking to a range of companies in B2B and B2C markets. Many of them are concerned about their NPS scores or levels of customer churn. But when I ask why the numbers are moving, I get answers ranging from “well it’s probably…” to “I’m not sure, but…” and eventually “I don’t know”. If I ask 3 different people in the organisation, I’ll get three different answers because each team has it’s own experience, assumptions and data silos.

Curiosity is a competitive advantage

As a result, curiosity is a competitive advantage. New entrants steal market share because they don’t yet have these old assumptions. Instead they listen to their target market and learn why they do what they do. Driven on by fresh insights they then design products and experiences that meet evolving needs and expectations. Meanwhile, the less curious organisations are moving much slower, weighed down by old assumptions and a desire to do what they’ve always done.

Unlocking behaviour change

Behaviour change is a buzz word in many industries these days. But the underlying business case is the same. For any business to achieve customer and revenue growth they need to get their target market to do/buy something different. They need to change their behaviours.
But you can’t change what people do if you don’t know why they do it. Simon Sinek makes this point far better than me, in his wildly popular TED Talk about starting with why.
So the next time there is a change in your company’s NPS or churn number, ask why…? If you get an evidence-based answer, use it to make positive changes that are repeatable and scalable. If you don’t get an evidence-based answer, come and chat to MyCustomerLens. We can show you the why behind your customer’s behaviour.
Until then, please answer the open question I posed above in the comments. Why do you think companies get criticised for not listening to their customers? In the words of Dr Frasier Crane, “I’m listening”.