'Listening' Pays!

In today’s competitive marketplace, are the marketers of luxury, affluent and wealth-oriented brands really aware of what’s on their customers’ and prospects’ minds?  If so, what are the rewards? And if not, what are the risks?

That’s the primary objectives of an important survey of C-suite executives in the luxury affluence and wealth markets, in which we recently collaborated and asked these business leaders whether or not they had formal “listening” programs in place (only 25% reported they had such programs in place), and to what extent their businesses changed and profited as a result of those programs.

In a nutshell: “listening” indeed pays … and the truly organized listening programs deliver increased revenue, expense and efficiency savings, more marketing opportunities as well as enhanced profits. Why? If an organization doesn’t formally listen, it may be doing or delivering something that increases its expenses that its customers or prospects don’t value (and could be eliminated without affecting anyone), thereby increasing the organization’s profits. Conversely, if an organization doesn’t formally listen, it very likely will not find out about innovations or changes its customers or prospects would potentially value and gladly pay for, that would increase its revenues and profits if the changes were made. Either way, not formally “listening” to customers and prospects is not a smart organizational practice, as not formally “listening” allows for unnecessary expenses to continue that could be eliminated while potential innovations or enhancements likely to increase sales and profits would never be identified. 



In addition to the potential expense reductions and revenue increases that usually result from a formal “listening” program, team-building generally is another valuable asset. This enables C-suiters to become actively engaged with the staff. as they are in the front line of such “listening” efforts with customers and prospects, and they deliver the products and services the organization markets. This feedback (through the two-way street with senior management) then turns valuable customer and prospect input into positive actions that benefit the organizations and their audiences. Equally important, our “listening” survey highlights the 27 methods utilized in formal “listening” programs that included: 

  • Staff personally interacting with customers and prospects (90% do this);
  • Researching customer and prospect needs, preferences, etc. (88%); 
  • Employing digital tools (83%);
  • Using customer data to service customers and prospect better (73%);
  • Educating/rewarding customers (71%); 
  • Leveraging staff capabilities and knowledge (68%);
  • Integrating the organizations’ distribution channels (41%)

Additionally there were many “verbatim” comments from the C-suite respondents revealing why and how their formal “listening” programs have successfully impacted their businesses. Notable among the many positive comments about those formal programs were:

  • “$2m in revenue for our clients on solely our programs, for example.”
  • “…brought to our attention areas for consideration not previously considered.”
  • “It actually is the basis for our strategy - our members decided which categories and brands they’d like to hear from.”

Additionally 86% of these organizations reported they made changes to their operations based on their formal “listening” programs. Representative changes included:

  • “… able to refine our message and media channels based on industry input.”
  • “acquired companies to better offer a suite of services that customers have asked for. One-stop solutions”
  • “… always changing based on feedback. Customers pay the bills.”
  • “Now we listen more”

Big picture, 51% of the C-suiters who had formal “listening” programs in place stated their programs had a major impact on their businesses while 17% stated their businesses “owe our success to our listening program.” In contrast, those C-suiters with only informal listening activities are not as successful, nor are they reaching their full potential.

Bottom line is that a formal “listening” program goes to an organization’s bottom line. That, in turn, leads to increased optimism about their company’s prospects during the next 12 months in varying degrees (46% are “very optimistic”, among C-suite executives looking 12 months out, compared to 34% being very optimistic among those without a formal program in place).

At the same time, such success should not be taken for granted.  Rather, while formal listening programs are more productive than the informal programs, the more organized programs that report directly to the top C-suite executives on a regular basis are significantly more beneficial to the customers and prospects, the businesses and the staff.  The programs need ongoing, C-suite attention. In a few words, once you’ve started to connect … don’t disconnect.

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