When your job involves developing innovative technology, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in figuring out what you are going to do next, how you are going to do it and when you can deliver it, that you forget about why you are doing it in the first place. As a Product Manager working on InterAction® customer relationship management software, I’ve have had the opportunity to spend the last year actively listening to our clients and have learned some invaluable lessons along the way. Spending the time to understand their goals, pain points, ideas, and general thoughts on our product has led to a number of enhancement initiatives. Interestingly, what I’ve learned transcends the updates to functionality.
What I’ve Learned by Listening: The Process
I am an avid runner. On weekends I often spend two or three hours running through the neighborhoods of Raleigh, North Carolina. I’ve been asked how I keep pace for these long stretches without any music, and the answer is simple: I actively listen to my body, nature, and surroundings. I take several factors into account (my heart rate, hydration levels, the weather, etc.) and derive information from multiple sources (how I am feeling, how I navigate traffic and other runners, my mileage goals). The insights I gain by staying focused on the present have resulted in a more enjoyable experience, improved training and plenty of lessons learned. It has also altered my professional approach and I now apply the same holistic methods when actively listening to customers.
We’ve spent the past year getting insights through a pragmatic series of client story-mapping sessions, 1:1 meetings, and most recently, our Ideas Portal. This portal is a 24/7 initiative that allows our customers to submit InterAction enhancement requests that come straight to the InterAction team. This has given us a unique perspective on responding to the needs and wants of the firms that we work with.
Here‘s what I’ve noticed since taking an active listening approach:
- Active Listeners Create Brand Loyalty
Our customers value their time, of course, and we let them know how much we value their time, too. When our customers share their thoughts with us—trusting that our product management team will pay attention and respond—they keep engaging with us, taking part in the development process. Understanding that we want to hear from them and value their input keeps customers as committed to us as we are to them.
- Active Listeners Stay Ahead of the Curve
Running is important to me and I stay on top of the latest athletic product trends to keep my competitive edge: nutrition, gadgets, and, of course, running shoes—all without falling for the latest craze. Having a product management team devoted to keeping a pulse on the legal industry and staying ahead of the curve, helps keep clients confident in a product. One reason that InterAction is so successful is that our team not only understands what customers want but work diligently to anticipate future needs. I’m astonished by the rate that technology is advancing in this field. For instance, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer the stuff of fiction, so an AI strategy must be a priority. New tech is constantly being introduced into the marketplace—the challenge is ensuring that it solves real problems for our customers.
- Customer Engagement Is Good for Everyone
Two-way access to a product management team is an obvious win for customers, but these engagements are important to the effectiveness and morale to our team as well. This relationship breeds motivation throughout the product team. When customers become personal contacts, they give us insight to their processes and decision-making, driving us to maintain and create the best products.
Taking a Top-Down Strategy
I’ve learned so much from becoming a better listener. I wouldn’t have gained these insights without the top-down support that our leadership team has given to customer engagement. As Scott Wallingford, Vice President and General Manager over LexisNexis® InterAction, explains,
“We constantly partner with our customers to understand their emerging challenges, so we can align our innovation to serve their specific needs and goals, their input helps us ensure our solutions stay ahead of the change, so we can continue to support our customers’ success.”
By building an organization-wide culture of open communication between customers and product development teams, we’ve helped make customers more comfortable with direct interaction. It’s an initiative that’s been worth the effort!
So, how can you get in touch with the InterAction team? We’d love to touch base with you in person at ILTA 2018. This year to keep up with all the exciting and innovating things we’ve been doing with InterAction, we have decided to switch it up and wear red Nike Air Max shoes – you won’t be able to miss us.
Also, all InterAction customers can join the conversation through our Idea’s Portal.