Your Customers Are Always Listening and Learning

Seth Godin lifelong learning

This wasn't the post I intended to share this week. In fact, my weekly email had already been written and ready for delivery to you. But I was inspired by my friend and faithful weekly email reader, Jose Oliveira to tell a different story.

Sharing Knowledge Is Like Launching a Spitball

If you are a knowledge-sharer – writing, video, one-on-one, whatever your channel of choice – you know the challenge of sticking with your plan day after tedious day. Delivering something of value consistently takes time, thinking, and, more importantly, patience to uncover what matters to your audience.

Putting your work out into the world feels like launching a spitball across the school lunchroom. You're never sure where it will land or if anyone will know that you spent your entire math class making the perfect wad. You send your best work into the loud, cluttered lunchroom and wait.

Applause and engagement are hard to earn.

What Happens When a Reader Replies

This brings us back to wise reader Jose. Without fail, Jose sends a thoughtful, often funny reply to my weekly email. We are both avid readers (or book listeners in Jose's case) and exchange what to read next ideas.

A thought Jose shared from my last email chattered in my head for the next two days. His insight deserves to be shared.

"Nothing has helped me more in life than reading and listening to books. I feel privilege every time I can hear the authors read their books to me even though they have been gone for years."

And then we top it off with his genius idea. When Jose's younger son asked what Jose wanted for Father's Day, his brilliant reply was for his son to read or listen to a book. A lifetime mutual gift given.

You Never Know Who Is Listening and Paying Attention

I met Todd Brison through a series of Medium posts by a mutual connection. Todd is a talented writer who loves to share his deep knowledge of rhetorical devices and their impact on writing.

When Todd critiqued one of my written pieces, he gravitated to a particular sentence. "Your use of this tricolon technique is beautiful. Did you plan it?"

Tricolon? What's that? I just find myself drawn to the cadence of three descriptive phrases connected with commas. No colons involved.

Unlike Jose, Todd and I have never met in person. We've never shared a glass of wine while perched on our favorite Citrus Club corner barstools.

And yet because of our shared experience over a few of my words, yesterday Todd made an unexpected introduction. His acquaintance was looking for help creating client-focused knowledge-sharing.

Todd described me as a "great writer, worker, and thinker" who delivers value with client knowledge. I didn't see that one coming.

Engagement comes in the most unexpected ways.

5 Takeaways

1. Customers expect to be informed.

We all know by now that our clients and customers prefer to do most of their research and knowledge building on their own. By the time they come to us for the product or service they think they need, they feel informed, confident, and ready to buy.

2. Knowledge-sharing is a must-do for every cocmpany.

Creating a knowledge-sharing commitment needs to be on every company's priority list. If you aren't consistently delivering practical, non-salesy knowledge, your customers will find it somewhere else. And guess where they will buy?

3. It's about knowledge, not content.

You'll notice that I have avoided the popular phrase "content creation".

• Content is the stuff that delivers the knowledge your customers need.
• Creation is how you do it.
• Knowledge is what matters.

4. More engaging. Less lurking.

When you consume a post, email, video, or social media comment, take a moment and think about the creator -- the person behind the thought. What did you learn, appreciate, question in what they shared with you? Let them know. You open the door to a relationship that can lead to unexpected possibilities.

5. Who's paying attention?

The majority of people in your audience won't actively engage with you, but that doesn't mean they aren't quietly – patiently -- listening and learning from you.

Jose and Todd reminded me of this valuable lesson this week.

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Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable client relationships. She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

Linda believes that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely, and delivering more than their clients even know they need. As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."

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