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4 Ways To Listen

Most people I talk to agree that listening (and hearing) your customers is critical. If you’re not listening, you’re missing valuable feedback, suggestions and signs of trouble.

But how should you do it? I’ve offered some ideas about questions to ask, what to do with feedback and more. Most executives and business owners say the same thing, however:

“I don’t have the time.”

I get it. Time is precious and none of us seem to have enough of it. How about a few “set it and forget it” ideas? Ok, you can’t really forget, but you can consider it a start.

1. Set the right alerts.

Use Google alerts and Yahoo to find out what’s top of mind for your customers. If you are a B2B organization, set up alerts for your customers, their clients, and key employees. Competitors are another good category to track.

If you serve consumers, then track what’s important to them, not just your product name.

2. Search where your customers are.

Google Blog Search is a great resource for finding out where and how your customers are discussing topics important to them. So many blogs out there, and yet very rarely do brands or business owners actually participate in the conversations happening. Many times we turn to peers online for advice or ideas about specific products. Make sure you are paying attention!

3. Use Twitter as a direct line.

Setting up key search terms on Twitter can really help you hear what your customers are discussing. But here’s the secret: Don’t just search for your brand names. Search for WHY customers would use a product like yours.

4. Respond to complaints and suggestions from your customers with “Tell me more.”

When customers take the time to tell you directly, it’s important to listen up. Asking for more information will get to the root of the problem – not just what broke the proverbial straw on that camel’s back. “Tell me more” invites dialogue and thought.

See? It’s not that hard. But it’s not easy, either. It does take time, but if you commit to your end of the conversation, you’ll get more than enough from the other side.

Photo Credit: Melvin Gaal via Creative Commons license

Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the Chief Customer Experience Investigator™ and founder of 360Connext, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience: customer engagement, employee engagement and connections like social media. 360Connext serves mid-market companies and larger by helping them evaluate their true customer experience. The evaluations always lead to improvements which then lead to results like increased online conversions or loyalty.

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2 comments
Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan
Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan

Great stuff. 12Most did a similar post about listening to your customers. I thought the one thing missing from that excellent list was knowing their name! I do this AS the customer with people I buy things from. I get so many dividends from doing this - freebies plus just a bigger smile when I say, "Hey Jeannie, how's it going today?"

Jeannie Walters
Jeannie Walters

You're so right. Taking time to be kind AS the customer can do wonders for customer service, right?

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