I have a friend who was elated because she casually mentioned she wanted an electric blanket to a special friend of hers, and a few days later an electric blanket arrived on her doorstep. Her friend listened when she expressed a desire, and he made it happen.
Your customers are no different from my friend. They want to be heard. They are speaking all the time, expressing what they like, dislike, challenges they’re having, and things they wish they had. When you pay attention to what they’re saying, you’ll get all kinds of clues about things you can do to delight them. And by acting on some of their feedback, you’ll quickly show them you were listening. And that will make them feel real good.
- When I worked in corporate as a healthcare marketer, the product line I was responsible for were insulin pumps for people with diabetes. We used to work with market research agencies to get insights into the day to day struggles our customers were having with managing their diabetes. We would use what we learned to help develop tools, enlist the assistance of others to help support and inspire, and even incorporate our learnings into features to make our future products better. The more we listened, the better we got at serving our customers.
- A while back I held an event that required a caterer. It was my first event I was putting on myself, and it must have been clear to the caterer that I was a novice, and wasn’t exactly sure how the process would work. So he carefully educated me on what I needed, how to make sure I had enough food and various types of food, and how to save money. I was so pleased with how much he listened (to my unmasked confusion), and how he easily gave me the necessary education without making me feel dumb. I hired him for the job, and later recommended him for another.
- Listening to your customers isn’t limited to only when they are talking to you. Your customers are expressing themselves in multiple ways. It’s just a matter of tuning in to what they are saying, to whom, and where. For instance, you can gets lot’s of good insight by reading comments your customers or would be customers leave on blogs, what they post and talk about in social media, or even what you overhear them saying to each other in your store.
- Take good notes. As you listen to what your customers are saying, keep a running list of the types of things they comment on. By having all that you’v heard in one place, you can quickly spot trends and patterns, to find out what things are most important. You can then use that to score a quick win by acting on what you’ve learned from multiple customers.
Application for your business
- Make a list of 3 places where you can begin “actively listening” to what your customers have to say. Blog comments, forum threads, social media, are good places. And if you have a customer support hotline, that’s a really rich source of information as well.
- Map out a system for keeping track of all that you’ve heard your customers say. Include how you might categorize information, and how frequently you’ll review to pick up trends.