You know what a blog is. You're reading one.
I'm doing no listening whatsoever as I write this. Listening is inward, and this activity is outward.
If I own a company and I want my customer to join in conversation with me, I might write a blog post in the hope that it spurs conversation. The problem is that I'm choosing the topics. That's not a good start for listening to customers.
Customer-initiated conversations look more like this:
"Hello... ABC Plumbing? This is Mrs. Jones."Mrs. Jones chooses the topic.
"Hi Mrs. Jones. What can I do for you?"
A blog is more like this:
"Hello... world? This is Bob at ABC Plumbing. I want to talk about..."Look at the customer-initiated topic versus ABC Plumbing's wisdom about faucet care posted on their blog for the whole world to read. Both are important and valuable communication, but one has listening at its heart and the other is, well, marketing.
Blogs are necessary and good, but they shouldn't be confused with listening.
There are lots of blogs out there that try to spur conversation with customers publicly. And sometimes that happens. But what happens on a blog is not representative of how a business listens to customers. Nor is a survey. Nor is a focus group. Every one of these methods for "listening" has its topics chosen by management. That's not truly listening.
What might a survey look like if Mrs. Jones and other current and potential customers chose the topics and questions? What if it were just fill-in-the-blank?
What if customers and potential customers chose the some of the topics on a blog site?
If conversation happens when both people enter into it with the willingness to be changed by it, then a company needs to use these tools as methods to respond to customers and change the way in which the company conducts business.
Show the response. Show the change that the customer initiated. Show that you listened.
When you listen, try not to pre-determine the topics of conversation. Otherwise you just might miss the most important thing that you need to hear.