Recently I called Comcast concerning issues I was having with my internet connection. My connection had been deteriorating lately and my business relies on “being connected”. The purpose of my call was to simply ask them to send a service technician out to check the cable power from the street to my house.
I was on the phone for over forty minutes. I was passed to five, count them, 5, different people and each time I was passed to another person I had to answer questions using my keypad. One someone actually got on the phone initially they asked me the same set of questions as the previous person then passed me on to the next person and the process started all over again. In the end person number five did indeed finally schedule a service technician to call me to schedule an actual visit. Oh, and to top it all off they sold me a on upgrading to infinity service and then had to charge me for the service technician to come out
My entire Comcast experience made me think about the difference between listening and hearing. Comcast heard me but they weren’t listening. How many times have you engaged with a product or service customer call center only to experience a lot of hearing but no listening?
Hearing vs. Listening
Lets start with some definitions
Hearing – To perceive or apprehend by the ear; to gain knowledge of by hearing;
Listening – To pay attention to sound; to hear something with thoughtful attention; to give consideration; to be alert to catch an unexpected sound.
Listening means to really key in to what the person is saying and not saying. To look for the meaning and the feelings behind what is being said. To go beyond the words. Giving your deepest level of attention. vs. simply receiving the words which can become only “sounds”, hearing.
Hearing without listening means not trying to understand, or not listening below the surfce. Giving only peremptory attention. Not absorbing feelings or taking in any new information.
In a world gone social everyone is hearing a lot of noise but few are really listening. In a world gone transparent the noise is what the market hears while the customer is simply looking for someone to listen. I tried to get five people to listen to me at Comcast over a forty minute time frame. In the end someone heard me then they wanted to charge me to listen. It would have been cheaper and smarter for them and for me if they simply listened to what I needed first rather than last.
Now millions will listen to this post for many years to come and the supplier will hear a different noise. The silent noise of customers leaving. That is unless they learn to listen rather than building massive cost to simply hear.