Practical Tips to Improve Customer Relationship Through Listening.
Communication is a two-way street. While we all know and agree to this, it is not uncommon to see businesses forgetting this fact in practice. Many times, we find marketers/salespeople speaking so much and not listening or encouraging the customer to speak. You should, instead, be trying to improve customer relationship through listening. I will admit that I don’t think this is intentional. It is probably drawn from the fact that since you are the one selling, you should be doing most – or all – of the talking while the buyer listens.
But it just doesn’t work that way. No healthy relationship thrives when one person is doing all the talking; everybody wants to be heard. And if you approach your customer relationship with this mentality, you will see a vast difference in the way your customers respond to you. Now that we have established this, before we look into how to improve customer relationship through listening, let’s discuss some of the benefits of listening to your customers.
Benefits of Listening to Your Customers
Increases Customer Retention
Businesses are always seeking to retain customers. Customer retention can be as easy as it can be difficult. However, it is easier to keep old customers than to get new ones. This is because the former have patronised you and know what you have to offer whereas you have to convince the latter that you are the best option amongst your likely many competitors. Imagine not being able to retain these old customers because they don’t feel heard.
Think of it this way; you can only know how and what to sell to your customers if you listen to them. Sometimes, we genuinely assume we are doing good or giving our best when we are actually lacking. But we cannot know that without listening to customers. Your customers can give you some of the best ideas to move your business forward, so, you should definitely prioritise listening to them.
Great for UGC
You can also create UGC (User Generated Content) for social media by using feedback from customers. Remember that customers’ feedback can also be positive. And if you don’t know it, know this now, that customers like to be acknowledged by the brands they support. So, sharing positive feedback on social media is not only a great marketing strategy (it’s actually one of the best), it will also keep your customers happy.
Unpaid Brand Ambassador
Building on the point above, if you make your customers happy by providing them with excellent service/product and great customer service, they will sing your praises to anyone that cares to listen. And trust me, as I said already, the best marketing you can get is your customers recommending you to others.
Let me add at this juncture that it is not enough to pride yourself as a brand that listens, you need to encourage your customers to talk to you. Don’t assume they are satisfied with your service just because they are not saying anything; not every customer will get back to you about their grievance. Ask them periodically or after delivering a service or selling your good what they think of your service and what you can do better. You should also practice social listening, where you check your brand mentions on social media to see what people are saying about you.
Okay, let’s go to the business of the day; how to improve customer relationship through listening.
Practical Tips to Improve Customer Relationship Through Listening
Listen to Understand
You are either hearing someone or listening to them. But when it comes to customers, you want to listen, not just hear. You need to understand that your customers are the heart of your business; they are a priority. So, what they say matters. This should drive you to try to understand where they are coming from; whether it is concerning what they need, what they enjoy or a grievance.
Take a “Listening” Stance
Your body language can show if you are listening to someone or not. You might be looking at them but if your eyes are glazed over, it is clear that you have tuned them out. Instead, turn your body towards them and nod intermittently to show interest in the discussion. You also don’t want to frown even when they are coming at you. Smile, when it is necessary and at the very least, keep a poker face.
If you still don’t get what they are saying, ask questions to get clarity. And even when you think you do, to avoid misunderstanding, put what they are saying in your words so they can clarify if that’s what they mean or not.
Let them say all they want to say without interruptions. Even when you need clarity, don’t interrupt till there is silence from their end indicating that they are done with their line of thought.
There is usually a temptation to argue if you feel like the customer is wrong and you are right. Don’t fall into that temptation. Remember that the goal here is to listen, and listening entails getting their point of view and not really about passing yours across. This is not to say the customer might not actually be wrong. It just means you know, at that point, that listening to them is more important.
Focus on the Conversation
It is totally impolite to be focused on other things when you are having a conversation with anybody, much more your customers. Nobody wants to have a conversation with someone that is focused on their phone or distracted by other things. It is disrespectful and you shouldn’t treat your clients like that, not if you want to retain them. Give them your attention; it shows them that the conversation is important to you.
I mentioned earlier that you need to encourage your customers to speak to you. You can do this by asking them to say what they feel about your service. However, apart from that, you need to position yourself as a brand that listens. For instance, is your contact address clearly stated on your website and social media accounts? Your customers should know that they can have access to you whenever they need you. You should also include in your brand language words and phrases that communicate that you are open to customer feedback.
Implement What You Heard
At the end of the day, what’s the purpose of listening to your customers when you never implement what they say? Now, you might think you can get away with pseudo-listening where you make a show of listening to them and discarding their opinion the next minute. It is only a matter of time before you are called out; people are a lot smarter than that, especially on issues that involve their money.
To balance it up, you cannot implement everything customers say because you might know what’s feasible and what’s not better than they do since you are the one actually running the business. You know what works and what doesn’t work. So, you should have enough discernment to know what to discard but you should also not be someone who thinks you always know better. Others might just give you an insight that would transform your business.
I would like to conclude by recommending listening to your employees as well. Don’t underestimate their ability to open your eyes to insightful perspectives you haven’t considered. Besides that, they most likely have more contact with customers than you do and would have heard information you are not privy to. And that’s that; did you find this article useful? Share with someone that you know needs this information.