Regardless of the industry you operate in, there will be competition. You will be competing with others for your customers. And it is the customer who chooses who to buy from.
The big problem is because of high availability of services or products just like yours, customers can move. And they do. A Callminer study showed that 82 percent of customers are willing to switch service providers or products when an interaction with customer support went bad. You want to be a part of the other 18 percent.
What Is Listening To Customers?
Most business owners simply think listening to their customers is listening to problems. They think all that it takes is to pick up a phone or answer an email. This is not actually correct.
To truly listen to your customers you have to connect. You have to pay attention to expressed needs and truly understand how you can offer help.
To put it as simple as possible, listening to customers is a very important process in modern business that can actually make or break you.
Here’s Why Every Business Should Listen To Its Customers
Although we could highlight several reasons, the following are the most important:
Lowering Customer Churn
The most important thing to know is that most of the customers you have are more than willing to pay a little more for the services or products of another provider when the customer experience they have is better. Having poor customer service stands out as one of the most common reasons why clients end up switching their providers. It is thus highly important to make everyone buying from you feel truly valued. The competitors will surely want to try if you do not.
Increasing Customer Loyalty
You can have the best possible service or product out there and still eventually end up losing customer loyalty. Nobody is safe from the churn that can appear in your business. A single bad interaction can lead to this churning.
Your customer service team has to listen to feedback so that demands can actually be fulfilled. In the long run, this will increase customer loyalty. In the event that something bad happens, it will be much easier to recover if loyalty is high.
Increasing Customer Retention
If the service reps actually listen to customers, an immediate result is smoother service interactions. Troubleshooting is simply so much easier to take care of. Customer retention tends to be higher when friction lacks during these interactions.
Identifying Upsell Opportunities
This is a good reason to highlight to business owners who do not want to listen to customers. The practice is actually very effective at cross-selling and upselling. So, you can actually make more money for your business when you improve customer satisfaction.
Let’s think about a very simple example. You have one of your staff members troubleshoot a problem one of the customers is facing. During the conversation, the client mentions that the tool you offer has some limitations. Maybe they need more space for data storage. The staff member can explain the benefits associated with a higher plan. As a result, you end up with a higher sale.
Creating Positive Customer Interactions
Listening always makes the conversation much more personal. You actively invest something in the dialogue. The customer service representative will naturally get more invested. This increases the possibility that the customer will be faced with a much better overall shopping experience. Thanks to this connection, the interaction becomes positive.
Unfortunately, customer service departments rarely know how to listen to customers. Training is necessary for this.
Here’s Why A Business Might Not Want To Listen To A Customer
We have to also think about the reverse and realize there are cases in which you do not want to listen to a customer. While generally the practice is positive, using due diligence is important for business growth. Here are some reasons you need to know why listening to customers might not be a good idea. Obviously, these apply in specific situations.
- What customers think might be incorrect – One of the main reasons why you have to be trained in actively listening in business is that you gain valuable knowledge. But this is not always the case. The feedback coming from your customers can be very valuable but they might not really know some things that are very important to them. You would have to show what is actually needed. Giving your customer exactly what they say they need is not always the best solution.
- Your customer might try to mislead you – Surveys are often used to just complain or highlight a recent thing that bothered the individual. This is useful feedback but it can also be very misleading. Do not automatically consider customer feedback correct. Make business decisions only based on data. And as much as you can get of it.
- Customers cannot predict what will happen in the future – Current needs dictate what we want right now. Customers do not know what they will need in the future. When heavily relying on feedback from your clients, businesses tend to miss out on huge innovation opportunities. You want to create something new.
- Customers can become a business distraction – The whole process of listening to your customers can become distracting and time-consuming. Businesses can end up neglecting other very important things, like marketing or product development.
Simply put, it is very important to listen to your customers but there are cases in which you should not. Always analyze the individual situation and use your judgment.
How To Properly Listen To Your Customers
Now that we know why it is important to listen to customers and when you might not want to do so, it is time to figure out exactly how to listen to your customers. Simply recording what they say is not enough. Here’s how you PROPERLY listen to your customers.
Let Them Speak
First thing first! If you speak, you cannot listen. To actually listen, the business representative has to stay silent. The customer needs to be able to explain a problem before it can be fixed. You might know the solution from the very first sentence but that does not mean you have to interrupt. There might be something else there you do not know that could help you in the future.
Stay Patient And Humble
Working with some customers is very difficult. Every single customer support rep will tell you that. Terminology is often fumbled and you can only hold the hand of a limited number of people until you shut down. Mentally checking out is something that is very common. It is quite a costly overlook.
Staying patient and humble is vital. Reps have to be told and remember that when they started, they also did not know anything. All questions asked are important and have to be answered.
Use The Customer’s Preferred Communication Channels
Customer support needs to make the people they talk to comfortable as they are interacting with the business. A big part of this is to choose the right communication channel. You basically want to talk to people where they want to talk.
Think of this as being an opportunity. Your marketing department can align with the customer service department. Make sure to have the service managers accurately assess the customer personas and then identify what communication channels are used the most.
As a very simple example, when targeting millennial audiences, social media is most likely the best communication channel you can use. You simply assign your reps to the business social media accounts.
Don’t Forget About Body Language
Obviously, if you offer most of the customer support service online, this does not count. But, if you rely on live support, body language is incredibly important since it shows people if you are actually listening. Whenever the body signals show that attention is not being paid, the interaction will be problematic.
To take things even further, respect body language recommendations even when you are in online chat or phone calls. The body language you have does influence how the interaction goes.
Practice Your Active Listening
You have to practice active listening. It does not actually come naturally. You need to put the focus on the speech of the customer, which is problematic since you are naturally focused on the goals you have.
Many customer service interactions boil down to the rep trying to find the fastest possible solution. This is not the right approach.
Listening to your customers is one of the most important parts of doing business. It simply gives you so much important information you are going to want to use to take everything to the next step. Make sure to respect what is highlighted above and always keep active listening.