The Green Cross Code, created by the National Road Safety Committee (now the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, RoSPA) to raise awareness of pedestrian road safety in the United Kingdom, began in 1970 and continues today. While the Code has undergone several changes over the years, the basic tenets have remained more or less the same – Stop, Look & Listen.
By far the most memorable of all the multimedia adverts has to be that showing the Hedgehog Family which spanned across the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Through the animated, and adorably cute, hedgehogs, we learnt the risks of road traffic accidents whilst singing alone to such recognisable songs as ‘King of the Road’ and ‘Staying Alive’.
Every advert drew back to the simple procedures:
- STOP at the kerb
- LOOK around for traffic
- LISTEN for dangers
Only once you had done all three actions, and assessed that it was safe to do so, would you cross the road.
Assumptions make an….
It is such an easy process, one that I would bet most adults could still whistle the tune of, but its aim was simple – make sure children don’t assume they’re safe from danger, and give them the tools to assess the situation in front of them.
Unfortunately, it is a process that a lot of us fail to transfer in to other areas of our lives. We assume we know what our loved ones are thinking, and presume that we know what our employees and consumers want – they want what we’re offering, what we think is best for them… right?
How often do businesses truly take the time out to listen to their stakeholders – whether that’s internal employees, or external consumers?
Listening is such an underused, and often misplaced, skill. What we perceive to be listening is more often than not actually putting out leading questions, or only hearing the bits we want to hear. What we are actually doing is making assumptions, and ultimately we are listening to reply rather than listening to understand.
Active listening on the other hand requires the listener to fully concentrate, understand, respond and remember what is being said – only then can the information gathered be effectively acted upon. This requires asking some hard questions, ones we often shy away from, such as:
- Do you think you will still be working for us in three years time?
- Have you ever just wanted to walk out the door – and if so, why?
- Do you think the 9-5 hours give you a good work / life balance?
- Do you think you have the support you really need?
- Do you think you will still be a customer next year?
- What do you think our competitors do better?
- Do you ever refer us to others? Why do / don’t you?
- Would you pay more for a better product?
- What, about our company, causes you the biggest frustration?
Don’t accept the norm
The norm is where we think our employees and customers sit. The issue with assuming we know what the norm even is, is that we are slow to accept that the norm is changing. In the modern, digital-led, fast moving era, the norm is harder than ever to pin point. Even worse, the norm doesn’t allow you, as an organisation, to find your next USP within a crowded market.
Why not accept part-time, rather than the norm of 9-5 working?
Why not accept that your clients are willing to pay more for great products with amazing customer service, rather than the perception that clients always want something for nothing?
Why not accept that customers have looked around at the whole market place and may be the best insight into your competitors, rather than burying your head in the sand?
So STOP assuming you already know the answered, LOOK at your audience properly, and LISTEN to what they have to say.