listeningFor the store managers or associates who interact with customers all day long, the idea of having to listen to their customers seems redundant. After all, listening to customers is what they do for their entire shift. But actively engaging with customers and distilling all of the voices into major themes is difficult. Honestly, most store associates “cannot see the forest for the trees” when it comes to listening to customers.

Two reasons we fail to listen to customers:

Recency: As humans, we are programmed to remember only the most recent things while the past becomes hazy. It is the recency effect.  It happens when people recall the most recent information but not older engagements. When asked what customers think, store managers are likely to only remember the past week. Earlier interactions fade.

Reinforcement: Another human trait is to remember facts well that reinforce our own beliefs and discount facts that contradict our beliefs. It is the confirmation bias. It causes us to listen and remember information that supports our pre-existing attitudes and beliefs.  At the same time, we selectively forget the uncomfortable information that challenges us. Imagine a store manager who believes that sales are down because the prices in the store are too high. She may retain all of the comments from customers complaining about the prices without remembering comments about trouble finding parking.

For those reasons, store managers need to put tools into place that can actively inquire about customer experiences and objectively report the findings.

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