With the city of London as a great backdrop, I had the pleasure recently of sitting down with Mark C. Thompson, CEO of Virgin Unite Mentors. The passionate and energetic Thompson has worked closely with business executives around the world including the late Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson.

During our 15-minute discussion he wanted me to walk away with one lesson.

“We need to be better listeners than ever before,” he stated.

Whether customers are calling you for customer support, tweeting at you with thanks or shaking your hand to close a deal – take the time to listen.

Your Customer has a Voice Like Never Before

Listening is the most important part of the customer experience. Since the introduction of commercial radio in the 1920s we have been wired to broadcast our thoughts to an audience.

We as a company might have the world’s-best, fastest, brightest, newest, high definition products and services. But here’s the kicker… our audience doesn’t care.

Our audience has a microphone in their pocket and they want to be heard.

And heard in ways that are much different than before. Today research indicates that by the time many customers are reaching out to businesses, they are already 60 percent of the way to having their minds made up. (CEB, 2014).

They don’t want to be bombarded with broadcast messages. They want businesses to answer their questions and help them make the right buying decision.

Listening is a very new concept for many businesses. The rapid growth of digital and social technologies has opened doors. To improve your customer experience you must keep up with technological growth and stay true to your vision.

Three Definitions of Success

Mark told me that he believes there are three definitions of success that will help any business define their vision and improve the customer experience.

  • Purpose: Give your business a clearly stated purpose. Why are we here? What is our work helping society achieve.
  • Passion: Understand what drives your employees. What inspires them to come to work and excel in their field?
  • Performance: Reward strong performers in your organization. Without the gains they can provide, your business cannot support its purpose.

Once you are able to define these terms of success within your business, your people will become higher achievers and your business will grow.

Alignment of Success

In conclusion, Mark wanted me to understand that businesses need to take a step back and define success. Once they have defined success, business professionals will be able to find customers that align with their goals. These customers will believe in your purpose, passion, and performance.

The same customers will be talking about your brand online, offline, through clicks, in person at bricks and mortar, and on a phone. We as businesses need to be ready and able to listen to the customer’s experience on any modality and improve our own purpose, passion, and performance for them.

Watch Thompson’s entire keynote to learn how to transform your customer experience.

I was an employee of the Xerox Corporation.