Why and How You Should Listen to Your Customers.

You obviously know that customers are very crucial for your business. They have power over your business and influence whether you stay in business or not.

Most entrepreneurs know that customers should come first and that they are always right. And one of the ways to put your customers first is listening and putting into consideration what they say. But how many entrepreneurs or businesses actually listen to their customers leave alone put into consideration what they say?

What your customers say and feel about you, your business brand, your products or your services shape your business.

Your customers have high expectations of you and one instance of unmet expectations can actually make them choose another provider over you.  A study by CallMiner shows that 82% of customers would change products or service providers after a bad customer service experience.

Some customers will speak freely while others will not give their perspectives to you directly. That means you have to listen to your customers directly and indirectly. What they say to your face while in your store, on a call, and on email.

Additionally what they say on social media with hundreds of other customers and competitors watching. Customers have a stronger voice than before because of the power of social media.

Listening and analyzing your customer’s feedback helps you address issues that could negatively affect your business. When you address these issues in advance, your business will avoid customer churn – losing customers.

As a business owner, learn and help your customer service team learn how to listen to your customers better.

Why you should listen to your customers.

Sophia Bernazzani writes on HubSpot that listening to your customers is not just hearing their problems but it’s about connecting with them.

Don’t just hear your customer and feel like they are ranting to you, instead, pay close attention to what they are saying. Not to answer back but to understand their needs and understand how you can help them. Listening is all about understanding your customer’s needs.

You might not be interacting with your customers directly all of the time but you have a team that interacts with your customers all the time. Online and offline. And if you want them to provide the best service and support to your customers, they need to be excellent listeners. They need to remember important details mentioned by customers and they also need to be in-tune with the customers’ emotions.

1.Lessen Customer Churn.

Do you know that 86% of your customers are willing to pay more for another provider if they will receive a better customer experience?

Losing customers is highly influenced by poor customer service.  When you don’t meet your customer’s expectations during a service interaction, they don’t feel valued. This pushes them to your competitors in search of satisfaction.

2.Increase Customer Loyalty.

Customer loyalty boosts sales and this is fuel for success when it comes to small businesses.

Experts say that it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is. Poor customer experience will still chase them out of your door.

Listening to customers is one way to boost customer loyalty. When you listen, you understand and meet their expectations. Keep your customers happy and be sure of their loyalty to you.

3.Boost Customer Retention.

When your team listens to your customers, business interactions become smoother. This reduces friction that comes from issues like your customers having to keep repeating the same information.

This way your team is on the same page with your customers. Lack of or reduced friction increases customer retention as research shows 91% of customers will remain with a provider after good customer service.  

4.Create Delightful Customer Interactions.

According to Sophia Bernazzani on HubSpot, listening makes a conversation personal and one becomes invested in the conversation.

When your customer service team is invested in a conversation with a customer, they are more likely to do everything they can to make sure that the customer’s need is met. This is because they understand and are connected to the customer’s needs.

How you should listen to your customers.

As a business owner, you know that listening to your customers is important and your team knows that too. However, most business owners and customer service teams struggle to listen to customers because they don’t know how to listen productively.

1.First, let the customer speak.

You cannot listen and understand what the customer is saying if you are also speaking. Learn to let the customer speak and avoid cutting them short rudely.

Your team will probably know the problem and even have the solution from the word go but that does not mean they should interrupt. Interrupting shows impatience and makes the customer feel whatever they are saying is not really important.

Sometimes, cases may seem similar at the start of the conversations but there is probably different information that would change the case.

2.Be patient.

True listening involves patience. When you listen to a customer in a hurry, there is a high probability you will miss some important details.

Also, when a customer feels you are in a hurry, they don’t feel valued.

This is common when employees are interacting with customers who are new to your products or services. Employees need to be patient with these customers as they will probably ask many questions that seem useless to employees who know the product or service inside out.   

Your team needs to value what customers say and be patient to listen and understand the customer’s problem.

3.Observe your body language.

They say body language speaks louder than actual words.

Body language can tell a customer whether you are actually listening or not. When customers detect a lack of interest or divided attention, they know they are not being listened to.

Body signals influence the interactions you have with customers. Even when you are interacting with a customer on a call, how you sit on your desk will influence how you sound during the call.

4.Engage with your customers on their preferred channels.

Different customers prefer different channels whether online or offline. Some prefer emails, direct messages when they as a question on a comment, etc.

Understanding who your customers are will help you understand the communication channels they prefer. A common example is a millennial audience who prefer social media. So if your customer base is a millennial demographic, you need to engage with them on social media.

5.Practice active listening.

True listening is active listening.  

Active listening focuses on the customer’s speech. This cuts out a hurry to find a quick solution.

Think about what the customer is saying, and repeat what they said to ensure you fully understand the problem. This will ensure you don’t miss important details and shows the customer you understand their problem. This also assures them you will find the best solution for them.

Final Thoughts…

As a small business owner, your customers can break or make your business.

Putting your customers first is all about making your customers happy and this means listening to and understanding their needs.

When you listen to your customers, you will know how to act. This way, you know how to manage your customer experience, how to improve your products or services. This then ensures customer satisfaction, boosts customer loyalty, and reduces customer churn rates.

Remember, directly or indirectly, your customers have a way of shaping your business.

Your customers’ voice is powerful when they praise you and very damaging when they condemn you. But, it all lies within you to influence the power of their voice.