Unless your company is working on 'the cutting edge of innovation' it pays to learn to actively listen to your customers. One can argue that if Henry Ford listened to what his customers wanted, he would have had to create faster horses or if Steve Jobs listened to what his customers wanted, we wouldn't have ever had iPhones, iPods, iPads or Apple Music.
One can argue that customers don't know what they want, or that customers are not always right, or that we create for the proactive consumer (i.e. the screaming minority) but the real question to ask yourself is "Does your company have the staying power to wait it out till customers are ready to buy your cutting-edge innovation?" If yes, you can stop reading the rest of this article.
In past articles we have covered topics on Product Pricing (Read Here), Value Propositions (Read Here), Buyer Journeys (Read Here), Customer Profiling (Read Here), and Customer Biases (Read Here). In this article we explore how 'listening' can help businesses achieve their growth agendas.
"LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND, NOT TO RESPOND"
Even as children, we are rigorously taught to talk and answer. We learn to parrot our textbooks and everything that we read. By the time we reach adulthood we are over-skilled in talking and answering questions but lack a similar proficiency in listening to understand. As business leaders and marketers, we take these proficiencies and apply them to our jobs and our marketing.
Without customers there is no business! Your customers must remain at the core of your businesses existence. Without them, there is no revenue, no jobs, no innovation etc. While this is not new to any business leader, what has changed especially since the pandemic is that your prospects and customers have shifted their wants, needs and desires. They have become more biased in their thinking, behaviours and actions. Businesses need to retune and realign their approach to marketing and sales to continue to achieve their growth agendas. Business leaders need to listen to understand, not to respond.
HOW BUSINESSES BENEFIT FROM ACTIVE LISTENING FROM CUSTOMERS
Customers are the best testers for your products/ services
Customers have a knack of using your solution in ways you never thought of. They push the limits that your in-house test teams would never dare.
Customers help improve your products/ services
Just because you built a solution does not mean that it is the next best thing to sliced bread. Customer needs and expectations consistently evolve and grow.
Happy Customers outweigh Satisfied Customers
All too often businesses deliver to what customers want (affordable price, comparable quality etc.) and hope that the customer is now happy. When in fact they are just satisfied. Happiness requires empathy, which begins with active listening. Happiness comes from the post-sales service and support; the continued experience, and not from the sale itself.
Reduce Customer Churn; Improve Customer Loyalty
Poor customer service is the 2nd biggest reason why customers switch brands. What is even more painful to know is that industry reports indicate that 86% of customers will be happy to pay more to another brand if they will receive a better customer experience. That 86% could have come to your business.
Industry reports indicate that 91% of customers remain with businesses that offer good customer service (post-sales support). This means that it costs you less in advertising & marketing to attract new customers if your old customers continue to stay loyal and become advocates of your business.
HOW YOUR BUSINESS CAN BENEFIT FROM ACTIVE LISTENING
Listen more than you talk
Everyone loves to hear their own voice, but unless you are going to buy all of your business solutions yourself, listen more than you talk. Don't just fix the problem but try to understand the background behind the problem. Active listening will not only help you focus and connect better with your customers, but also avoid band-aid solutions for much deeper issues.
Not every prospect or customer knows your solution to the extent that you do. Help them with their smallest problems; work with them enable them to learn how to do it themselves. They will thank you with their loyalty, and act as advocates for your business.
Go to where your customers are, not to where you are comfortable or to what is trending. The goal is to make customers comfortable with your business, not for you to be comfortable.
Conclusion: No matter what business you are in, a simple fact remains that the only path to your customers' hearts lies through your ears. Logic and Reason will give you satisfied customers. It is only through Empathy that customers build bonds with businesses. Thank those customers that are happy and let them know that you value them. Thank those customers that have voiced their discomfort by letting them know that you will solve their problems and improve your solutions in the future.
Trigger Worldwide is a Brand Marketing Agency, built specifically for businesses to create Sustainable Growth. Our proprietary tools and process methodologies harness Technology, Creativity & Innovation, leverage Economic Drivers and Consumer Beliefs to help businesses overcome marketing inefficiencies and achieve their Growth Agendas.
“CREATE AN INSPIRED FUTURE FOR YOUR BUSINESS”
~ Trigger Worldwide