Listening: The Best Free Tool to Improve Project Outcomes

April 1, 2019 | Jon Meck
Listening: The Best Free Tool to Improve Project Outcomes blog image

On April 1st, we published an April Fool’s Day post about a brand new product, LSTN, that would help overcome challenges that companies struggle with every day. With our new "product", the promise is that you can achieve your business outcomes, improve your customer experience, and even raise employee morale.

Of course, by now you’ve (hopefully) realized that LSTN is not an actual product, but something that we can all do, every day, for free. If you haven’t caught the joke yet, spoiler alert: LSTN is just “listening.”

So why are making a big deal out of it? 

First of All, Did You Miss LSTN?

While the site doesn't exist anymore  — take it from me, it was amazing. I think this was the concept picture that started it all:

photoshopped image of man with enlarged ears

If you don’t know, that’s Nick — he works for Bounteous as a client service director. His direct role is making sure companies that work with Bounteous are successful, eliminating the traditional choke points that might get in the way, whether that means focusing on big-picture objectives or making sure feedback gets to the right team.

I don’t know how he drew the short straw or if he even knew that he was selected Hunger Games-style as tribute, but he’s a perfect example for this project — you might as well call him a "listening expert." And that picture? So good!

You Can’t Buy Good Communication 

If it were easy enough to add on another product that would improve almost all of your outcomes, very few companies would think twice about signing up. "Free product demo? No need, let’s just jump to the Enterprise Plan, with the recurring monthly charge, sleek user dashboards, and robust user management."

We’re quick to add new products that claim to improve performance, optimize our workflows, or make communication easier often because it’s both easy and cost-effective. However, the crucial components to every product, platform, or process are the people that will be using them. Improving the way your teams work together, with each other, or with external partners can be the force multiplier that affects every team’s bottom line.

Listening Is What We Do

If you were to ask me what we do at Bounteous, I’d launch into my standard one-minute summary. I love talking about what we do, “we create big-picture digital solutions,” and I love telling the story about how our teams were brought together, combining capabilities in a way that fits naturally and helps our customers.

Part of the reason that I loved this particular idea for April Fool’s Day was how it perfectly captured a core component of how we operate. I often find myself talking about the "what" — we design and build beautiful experiences, we measure and optimize your digital touchpoints, and we promote and engage, attracting new users and connecting with existing customers.

But “listening” is different. "Listening" speaks to how we do it. Whether we’re talking about how we communicate with our clients or even how we work across internal teams, we help drive success by enabling the flow of insights, ideas, and innovation across disciplines and business functions. Great experience starts with strategy and sets the stage for actionable results, but listening helps you frame the strategy and execute the items that lead to those results. 

This Should Sound Familiar

If you've interacted with us at Bounteous before, I hope this rings like a familiar refrain. While we might not call it “listening,” — we talk about these concepts often; in our meetings, on our website, and on stages around the world.

On the building beautiful experiences side, look no further than Seth Dobbs, our VP of engineering, who is a frequent presenter at the O’Reilly Software Architecture conferences, teaching audiences of software architects that communication is “not an optional soft skill,” – it's an essential component of success. Check out Effectively Communicating Technical Solutions for Various Stakeholders as just a preview of his contributions.

Stakeholder interviews are a standard part of every project, either focused on a specific project or piece of the engagement, or upfront with a strategy project — combining internal knowledge with our experience helps us to determine the guiding principles and concrete steps for action. 

Business objectives are the basis for our measurement and data science projects — data collection is a step towards a goal, but never the final objective. In a way, we can “listen,” to the data, capturing information, interactions, and preferences that help us understand users. While we can rely on advanced data techniques to help us slice and dice information any which way, it takes expert analysis that understands the overall business to pull out actionable insights.

Listening is also crucial when considering the research that goes into our design and marketing services. Combining qualitative and quantitative research helps us create user experiences and messaging that is purposeful and effective. Understanding and responding to both user demand and feedback helps us shape sustainable strategies to assist our customers with continuous growth.

Additionally, we find that listening is crucial for our digital marketing trainings that we hold around the US and Canada. Bounteous has always found that in-person training and workshops are crucial for learning — the ability to listen and respond directly to individual questions and tailor the course content to the attendees in the room is just something that the advancements in technology have yet to replicate. Feedback from attendees is collected after each training, and we’ve even made the decision to launch expanded enterprise training courses based on direct conversations with attendees and clients.

What Comes After Listening

Listening is just part of the equation, what comes next is equally important. Recognizing goals, aligning priorities, and catching issues as far upstream as possible helps with the overall success of our projects. Learning from and incorporating this feedback into the fantastic results we deliver are the proof points of how listening can improve overall outcomes.

So while you can’t buy LSTN today, you can certainly incorporate “listening,” into your projects, whether you’re working with listening experts like Bounteous or not.