Tag Archives: listening

Alright Stop, Collaborate, and Listen…

By Rita Pagan, DES

Did Vanilla Ice get it right? Now that you have that song in your head…anyone else have a problem actively listening when others talk? My brain doesn’t stop, and I can’t help interrupting sometimes. I’m going to make it my New Year’s resolution to try and actively listen.  It’s truly something I need to work on in 2022.

According to the Center for Creative Leadership, “Active listening requires you to listen attentively, understand what they’re saying, respond and reflect on what’s being said, and retain the information for later. This keeps both listener and speaker actively engaged in the conversation.”

Here are a few things I’m going to work on to be a better listener:

Stop.

My brain moves a mile a minute. When I’m listening, I’m usually thinking about 50 other things I need to do. Working on slowing down and focusing on the person talking is a must!

Collaborate.

I mean, how am I supposed to collaborate if I’m not fully listening?  The struggle is real.  Active listening allows you to understand problems and collaborate to develop solutions.

Listen.

Active listening builds more successful working relationships and make a better impression on the people you work with.

Active listening takes practice. Good thing it’s only January!

Rita Pagan, DES, is IPMI’s director, events & exhibits.

 

IPMI Webinar: Using Social Listening to Improve Your Customer Service. Presented by Melonie Curry, ParkHouston

Using Social Listening to Improve Your Customer Service

Melonie Curry, Communications Manager, ParkHouston

Register here for this webinar.

Or purchase the entire 2021 professional development series bundle.


Digital marketing is now a required element of good business. Learn to use social listening to analyze your organization’s digital footprint and social media presence. Provide responsive and timely campaigns that meet the needs of your target audience and help your organization do business better.

Attendees will:

  • Recognize the need for digital marketing.
  • Learn how to use social media to identify customer needs.
  • Examine which digital media channels best connect you with your target audience.

Offers 1 CAPP Credit towards application or recertification.


Presenter: Melonie Curry, Communications Manager, ParkHouston

Melonie Curry has developed customer educational materials for ParkHouston that share parking tips to educate the public and make parking easy and convenient. She manages ParkHouston’s social media and website and recently completed a digital marketing certification from Cornell  University. She served on the Texas Parking and Transportation Association’s Host Committee and helps manage social media. She is a member of the Social Media Advisory and Research Taskforce (SMART) and works on the Cultural Change Coalition to improve department collaboration in the City of Houston.

Register here.

 

 

 

 

Listening to Your Customers

Man Listening holding his hand near his earBy Jeff Perkins

One of the real challenges for parking providers is getting input from customers on an ongoing basis. The highly transactional nature of parking doesn’t always lend itself to a good feedback loop. So, as a parking provider, how do you know how you are doing? Are you meeting the consumer’s needs, or are you failing? How do you get better if you don’t know what’s broken?

Fortunately, our company’s users are more than willing to share their feedback with us. And while it’s important to read the positive reviews, you actually get a lot more insight out of the negative ones.

We spend a lot of time reading our reviews and doing a lot of surveys with our users–fortunately, when people create an account, they provide their email address so we can survey them. The insights we get from this research then inform how we evolve our offering. For example, one constant complaint we used to get was that people did not want to download an app just to pay for parking one time. As a result of this feedback, we added the option of paying via a mobile web browser. It’s an excellent example of listening to your customers and building new options.

Doing market research is easier than ever. Tools such as SurveyMonkey make it simple to create online surveys and email them to people who may have parked in your locations. If you don’t have a customer database, Survey Monkey can even help you find the people you’re looking for to take the survey. Also, nothing beats face-to-face interactions. Spend some time out on the streets talking to the people who are parking. Ask them about their experience and what would make it better.

If you have questions on how to improve your parking program, start by listening to your customers. They will probably have the answers you are looking for.

Jeff Perkins is CMO and head of product at ParkMobile.

Sorry, Were You Talking?

man cupping ear to listenBy Cindy Campbell

You’re probably familiar with the important concept of talking less and listening more. Author Susan Cain once wrote, “We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.” It’s troubling, then, that so many abandon the practice of listening as they climb the ladder of success. Instead, they fall victim to the notion that because of their professional position, their thoughts and words are somehow more valuable than those of others.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pointing outward on this topic. Even with the best intentions, I’ve been guilty of talking too much and listening too little in the past. It can happen to any of us for a number of seemingly good reasons. We’re too busy with the tasks at hand, we may have specific knowledge or experience others haven’t gained yet, or perhaps we’ve received accolades for doing such a good job that we assume we have all the best answers. Whatever the reason, if we start to believe the hype then little by little, we devote less time to actively listening to those around us. In my case, I came to recognize that I was listening less to the thoughts and experiences of others in a misplaced effort to complete tasks for the sake of efficiency.

Ask yourself: Do I model good listening habits? If you aren’t sure, perhaps it’s time for a self-check. How much do you speak when compared with others in your organization? How strong is your tendency to speak more than others? Is your communication style limiting or inhibiting others’ desire to share? When we’re unable to listen more than we talk, we risk the possibility that others will eventually give up and stop trying to help problem-solve.

Take it from an over-communicator: If you can’t listen, you can’t effectively mentor others. At times, it can feel uncomfortable to simply listen without commenting, but the effort is well worth it.

Cindy Campbell is IPMI’s senior training and development specialist.

Two Plain Hamburgers. No Fries.

tpp-2016-05-two-plain-hamburgers-no-friesby Cindy Campbell

Very few of us have ever received specific training on effective listening. My first formal course on the topic came in a workshop about Steven Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Covey talks about listening skills, or more appropriately, the lack thereof. One of the points made about his fifth habit—seek first to understand, then to be understood—rang true with me: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Why do we do this? Were we taught in our formative years to ignore message content? Perhaps not explicitly, but in some ways I suppose we were. For the sake of efficiency or expedience, we learned to listen for key words and to anticipate phrases so that we could reply quickly.

As adults, we filter everything we hear through our own life experience and previous knowledge. Sometimes in our haste—certainly more often than we realize—we draw the wrong conclusions, completely missing what someone is really trying to tell us. When this occurs in our business dealings, we risk being perceived as uncaring, disinterested, or even mechanical in our responses. In an industry in which the public’s perception can be critical to our success, leaving customers with a bad impression
can prove to be costly on many levels.

No Fries
In line at a fast-food place (don’t judge me), I recently overheard a conversation that illustrates Covey’s assessment of the importance of listening.

“How are you today?” asked the employee. “Would you care to try one of our new menu items?”
“No, thank you,” came the reply. “I’d like two plain hamburgers and nothing else. To go.”
“Would you like anything to drink?”
“No, no drink. Just the burgers.”
“Okay. Would you like anything else?”
“No. Nothing else.”
“OK, so that’s one hamburger …”
“No, I’d like two hamburgers.”
“OK, so two hamburgers. Would you like any fries?”
“No fries. Just two plain hamburgers. That’s it. To go.”
“So two plain hamburgers, no fries. And, I’m sorry, what did you say you wanted to drink?”
“No drink.”
“OK, will that be for here or to go?”

As I stood there, I could feel the tension radiating from the customer trying to order his meal. I wondered how long it would be before he ventured back in for another hamburger.

Listening
Now, I recognize that we don’t sell fast food, but the lesson from this observation still applies. In the parking industry, our product is a combination of services and access accompanied by a healthy dose of problem-solving and chaos prevention. Customers
don’t always fully understand or appreciate our services. Often, they can be unpleasant and difficult to assist and yet despite their attitudes and the lack of respect they may exhibit toward us, we must still provide them with an attitude of service. Pretending to listen or only listening selectively is not providing service. It’s withholding service.

As industry leaders, we must recognize that active listening plays a vital role in how we are perceived. To be successful, we must instill the attitudes and aptitudes for active listening within our organization. Active, in-the-moment listening conveys significant proof of genuine care about what the speaker is saying, thinking, or feeling. It isn’t necessary to agree with or even to understand everything that is being said; we simply have to set aside our preconceived ideas about what’s coming next and try to understand someone else’s point of view.

One last thought on the importance of active listening: Good listening skills can improve relationships beyond the office. Listening effectively can bring understanding and cooperation to our interactions with our friends, our family, and especially our significant others and our children. We owe it to ourselves and to those important to us to be fully present and listen carefully.

CINDY CAMPBELL is IPI’s senior training and development specialist. She is available for onsite training and professional development and can be reached at  campbell@parking.org.

TPP-2016-05-Two Hamburgers. No Fries.