Fans of any sports team show their love of the game, the players, the magical moments, with their feet. They pack into stadiums and arenas across the world every weekend to see their teams shine and if they don’t they are quick to express their discontent from the stands.

The business world is no different. Brand lovers will queue for hours to get the newest trend, they’ll join street football leagues to test their new boots, and they’ll share their latest YEEZYs on Snapchat and Instagram. They share their passion but are also quick to share their unfiltered criticism. The key is not to ignore their chants for change. Instead, actively encourage such feedback.

So how do you do that?

Here are two listening lessons we’ve taken from watching successful athletes and teams:

Firstly, they are not afraid of having honest conversations with managers and boards alike to learn what they they’ve been doing wrong, discuss how to get better and then implement the changes on the field or behind the scenes. We’ve taken the same approach, canvassing customer feedback via iPads in our stores. After analyzing thousands of responses, we are able to identify topics which disappoint consumers and act immediately. For instance, various consumers complained about the length of the curtains in the changing room, felt that the music volume in-store was too loud or some wanted to have a water dispenser. Simple things to change that can make someone’s experience with us a whole lot better.

From Board members to store managers, consumer callbacks are tackled by a range of staff at adidas. “When you call back you just want to listen. Consumers want to be heard and they want to be heard by someone that cares.” Eric Liedtke, adidas Group Executive Board member responsible for Global Brands

Secondly, teams with open lines of communication and a listening culture set the benchmark for others to work towards. We’ve made two-way conversations with our consumers the norm for store managers as well as headquarter teams through consumer callbacks. Dennis Blobel, Store Manager adidas HomeCourt, Germany, explains, “In the beginning it was a hurdle to call back consumers but we managed to make it a part of our daily routine. What we really enjoy is how surprised and thankful they are to get the call. We understood as a team that we have the power to change the perception of adidas in the consumers’ mind. Whilst positive feedback motivates us, negative feedback gives us the chance to grow as a team.”

Do you have a culture of listening to your consumers and other tips to share with our community? I’d love to hear from you.


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by Kati 28.11.2016
I've always found that mining through transcripts from live online help desks is useful to identify common problems. The customer can always be contacted via the email they've given for further clarification or feedback.
by Darrell 05.01.2017
Having open communication with consumers is a great way to get them "involved" and a way for them to feel that the company cares and their opinion matters. Simple gestures like these make an impact on us followers. This, and your continued efforts to help the environment (Parley) are the main reasons why I love your brand and will continue to support it. You guys rock!
Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Darrell 09.01.2017
Hi Darrell,

we're proud to have you in our ///-team!

High five,