The Art of Listening: 5 Powerful Ways to Spark Conversations with Your Customer

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Regardless of how well we may know our business, our customer’s opinion is the one that matters the most. To create successful products, we must identify the answer to the following: What keeps our customer awake at night? The answer to this simple question unlocks the possibility to solve their problems and gain their loyalty.

But if our customer's opinions are so important, why are they so often neglected?

To create loyal customers, we have to listen. Our customers are our greatest source of knowledge — whether we realize it or not. Bill Gates once remarked, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” 

So, how do we solicit this customer feedback and ensure we learn from it?

Start a Dialogue

Listening to customers not only builds better relationships, but better products as well. Here are some simple strategies for initiating customer conversations and analyzing the feedback.

1. Customer Surveys

Surveys are probably the most recognized way to solicit customer feedback, mainly because they offer businesses a chance to gather a plethora of data from a variety of customers. However, Gregory Ciotti of HelpScout cautions,

“The dilemma is that surveys can backfire if you don't make them streamlined and efficient because you spend a lot of time creating a comprehensive survey only to have customers ignore it.”

Customer surveys offer a comfortable medium for consumers while simultaneously allowing business owners to ask the questions they need the answers to.  They allow businesses the ability to gather more accurate customer feedback that can be used to improve the quality of their product or business.

New software such as Client Heartbeat makes tracking your customers’ feedback and their feelings about your brand or products easier than ever. The surveys you create using programs like Client Heartbeat can help to,

“…Identify your 'at risk' customers and send you an immediate email notification so you can proactively address their concerns.”

2. Behavioral Insight Surveys

Behavioral insight surveys allow businesses the ability to gather customer feedback on a personal, action-driven basis. Unlike customer surveys that are either emailed to customers or completed after a client is done using your site/product, behavioral insight surveys actively poll visitors based on the actions they take while using your site(s). Apps like Qualaroo allow you to survey customers in a much more individual and real-time environment. Ross Beard, marketer for Client Heartbeat, explains,

“When visitors are viewing specific pages that are important to you, use [apps like] Qualaroo to ask personalized questions to get feedback and then offer a solution to help.”

These surveys are used to gather instant insights from customers, address their individual problems in real time and, ultimately, answer their questions, making them recurring and valuable customers.

3. Mobile Surveys

One of the most overlooked strategies for gaining feedback, mobile surveys have become an invaluable tool for gathering consumer opinions. New applications such as mPoll.me, Mixpanel, and SurveySwipe allow business owners the ability to develop and distribute interactive, engaging surveys all on personal mobile devices.

A recent study created by Client Heartbeat found that of the more than 10,000+ surveys conducted, 11.9 percent of those were completed on some form of mobile device.

Survey Tips

  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions. Don’t ask questions if you will not use the answers.
  • They might teach you the most.
  • Stay consistent with you rating scale (i.e., consistent high/low scale).

4. Engaging on Social Media

It seems like everyone is on some form of social media today. Don’t be afraid to join in! Social media (which we'll explore in depth in an upcoming blog) gives us access to a wide variety of customers in an environment that encourages sharing and communication. When engaging with customers through a product or company page, ask them specific questions to produce guided and directed feedback. Offering an incentive (such as an electronic coupon) is a great way to reach more customers and thank them for sharing with you.

In addition to asking customers directly, social media platforms can provide access to publicly expressed opinions if you know how to look for them. New software and tracking applications such as Sprout Social and Social Bro allow businesses the ability to track and monitor specific mentions and keywords on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. As Beard explains, these applications 

“Notify you whenever your keywords are mentioned … then [you] pro-actively engage customers that are talking about you, and either solve their problems or provide answers to their questions.”

5. Feedback Forms

Hard copy feedback forms aligned at engaging customers while they are in your office or store can produce surprising results. We often overlook the value of “in-person” communication, and we bombard consumers with dozens of soft copy surveys. The human element of these surveys helps to build trust with clients, which often correlates to much more honest and, consequently, valuable answers.

Listen Carefully

Regardless of which strategy you choose when engaging your customers, keep it simple. Give your customers the opportunity to share their voice then listen and learn from what they tell you. Remember to remain open to a variety of feedback — sometimes the most valuable lessons are the unexpected ones, so don't toss feedback aside because it doesn't immediately seem relevant to the question at hand. Your customers are your most valuable source of information, so start a conversation and open the door to growth!

What are your thoughts on how to listen to your customers? Tweet at @eidsonpartners or leave a comment!

One thought on “The Art of Listening: 5 Powerful Ways to Spark Conversations with Your Customer

  1. Pingback: Understanding Your Market: Analyzing and Applying Market Analysis | Eidson & Partners

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