When we talk about business growth, all our attention goes straight to how satisfied our customers are with their experience with us. Well, simply because customers are the heart and soul of our business. The shopping experience, products, and services should always aim to keep our customers pleased. A recent study revealed that 82% of customers said they would switch products after a bad experience with the business’ customer service department.
To avoid this dreadful number from coming true at your small business, it’s essential to actively listen to customers and analyze their feedback to rectify issues that often lead to customer churn.
Modern customers hold high expectations of small businesses that they choose to patronize. Unfortunately, it only takes one instance of missed expectations to make customers change providers for what they think to be better prospects.
In this article, we will talk about the benefits of paying close attention to your customers and some of the best practices you can do to meet their emotions, needs, and even feedback so that you can set your small business up for significant growth this year.
What's better than acquiring one new customer?
What’s better than acquiring one customer? Nope, it’s not "acquiring two customers." It’s retaining your existing customer.
While all our marketing strategies have a certain appeal to keep reaching new audiences and capturing new customers, keeping existing customers still results in a more significant ROI. Have we mentioned that customer retention strategies also cost 5-25X less?
But what is the best customer retention strategy that keeps your current customers happy and engaged? It's more straightforward and a lot less technical than you think. It’s to listen to them.
Listening to your customers is the most effective customer retention strategy that the biggest brands continually use to inspire loyalty. From reducing customer churns to acquiring valuable feedback for improvement, we’ll cover all the benefits of listening to your customers so you and your team can test them out today.
What Is Customer Retention?
Customer retention pertains to measuring customer loyalty over time to gauge the business' overall success. To encourage customer retention, companies will execute various tactics to lessen the number of customers lost in a period of time and work on improving their experiences to ensure that they remain loyal to the business.
Listening to Customers
Listening to customers doesn’t just mean hearing about their problems. It's more than just picking up the phone when it rings or getting to your service desk when the bell is tapped.
Listening to customers is more about connecting with them. It includes paying keen attention to their emotions and needs and understanding how you can help them achieve their goals.
The best customer service reps are excellent listeners. They remember important details that were mentioned by the customer in the case and are consistently in line with the customer’s emotions. This way, customers don’t have to repeat information, which adds discord to the service experience.
However, this is just one benefit of listening to customers. Read along to learn about a couple more.
5 Benefits of Listening to Your Customers
1. Lessen Customer Churn
When it comes to customer churn or agitation, awful customer service is one of the biggest reasons customers change providers. Customers who don't feel valued during a service interaction quickly turn to your competitors for help. In fact, it is reported that 86% of your customers will be more than happy to dish out more money to another provider if they have a better customer experience.
2. Improve Customer Loyalty
No matter how excellent your product or service is, don’t let your guard down because it’s never completely safe from churn. As we have discussed, it only takes one poor interaction with you, and the majority of your customers will quickly turn and walk out the door.
Considering this, you have very little room when it comes to customer service. Your team needs to be competent in ensuring that your customers remain happy and loyal to your small business. Listening to customers’ feedback is the best way to stay at par with their demands and fulfill their expectations.
Listening to customers also makes them more confident in your product and services. And when someone goes above and beyond assisting us, we are usually happy to share this moment with our family and friends.
It is reported that 49% of customers who have had a positive experience say they would gladly share it on social media or post a positive review online. Loyal customers eventually become brand ambassadors.
3. Increase Customer Retention
Service interactions are smoother when you and your team listen to customers. Reps and customers find themselves on the same page, and troubleshooting is a breeze. This lack of friction is crucial because it directly leads to a boost in customer retention. Studies show that 91% of customers will remain with a provider after a good customer service experience.
4. Identify Opportunities to Upsell and Cross-Sell
Listening to customers is a great tool to upsell and cross-sell to customers.
For example, let’s say you're troubleshooting an issue for a customer. When the customer explains their problem, they highlight the usage limits of your product’s features. They keep running into restrictions and need more specialized components to achieve their goals.
You could explain the benefits of subscribing to a premium plan and how it would resolve their problems. If the customer is interested, you can refer them to your sales team and close the deal.
5. Create Delightful Customer Interactions
When you actively listen to another person, not just in business, the conversation instantly becomes personal. We become invested in the dialogue and our role in the experience. When attentive customer support gets invested in a conversation, taking notes of the customer’s sentiments and emotions, they’re more likely to excel in providing a delightful customer experience. That’s because they've connected with the customer’s needs and are committed to providing solutions.
6. Listening to customers gives you valuable feedback
Listening to customers is an excellent way to gather precise, real-time feedback. Employees on the front line are usually the first ones to hear from customers, be they complaints or positive comments.
After all, the best decisions are based on factual business data, not guesses or sentiments. You want to understand how your customers feel about your product or service.
Your customers are among your best critics, and listening to them produces data more accurately than data obtained through surveying.
In surveys, customers usually hold back on how much answer they want to give and how specific they want to get. The feedback you get from a no-holds-barred conversation is more comprehensive, encompassing, and detailed.
Use this feedback to back up business decisions. Measuring customer satisfaction can determine whether you meet, lack, or surpass your customers expectations.
How to Listen to Customers
While most of us know that we should listen to customers, many still need to learn how exactly. How do we listen to customers in a way that consistently produces a positive outcome?
Here, we've gathered some best practices that you can use to improve your listening skills.
1. Let the customer speak.
Can you listen to another person while you’re speaking at the same time? We highly doubt it. To really listen, you need to remain silent until the customer has explained the whole problem. Even if you already know the solution before they can finish, interrupting them gives them the impression that you’re impatient. You never know what details they may have that could change the case, so it’s best to wait until the customer is done speaking.
2. Stay humble and patient.
It's easy to feel impatient when working with a customer who is new to your product or service. They're not too familiar with the basics, they fumble with the terminology, and make it seem like they have to be assisted every step of the way troubleshooting process. These are the circumstances where reps can mentally check out and overlook details.
In these instances, keeping your cool and remaining humble is important. Remember, there was a time when you were just as new to the product, and you probably felt just as lost when they had questions. Every question is significant, so your team needs to tend to each one equally, no matter how well the case goes.
3. Engage with customers on their preferred channels.
Your small business's customer service goal is to make customers more comfortable engaging with your business. This includes communicating with customers on channels that they prefer to work on. With this, you need to understand your customer base in-depth.
For example, if you’re targeting an older, Baby Boomer audience, you may find that email and physical newsletters are their preferred communication channel. If you’re targeting a younger millennial audience, they’d want to engage with you via social media. So, you can assign reps to your social media accounts to questions that customers may pose. This way, you’ll reduce churn in customers' experience by engaging with them on a channel they’re already using.
4.Check Your Body Language.
Body language is a significant factor that shows whether or not you’re listening to a customer intently. If you have body signals that show you're uninterested or not paying attention, then this will translate directly to your customers that you aren’t really listening.
Tapping your feet, moving around, constantly touching your hair, adjusting the hemline of your skirt, looking at your watch or phone, or otherwise fidgeting are body languages that show you’re not paying attention.
And that goes for calls and chats, too. Your body language can influence the interaction even if you're not physically facing the customer. You still want to sound attentive, respectful, and polite. Your body language during the chat too. For example, if you sit straight up at your desk and have a smile on your face, you’re naturally going to be more energetic and optimistic during an engagement.
5. Practice active listening.
Active listening is a communication tactic that is responsible for closing deals.
Active listening places emphasis on what the customer is saying. Instead of scrambling to find a quick solution, active listening is when you only pay attention to what the customer is saying and then repeat the problem to them to assure them that you fully understand the issue. This shows the customer that you are invested in the case and clearly understand the problem.
6. Focus on the person as well as the problem.
Nobody likes to hear, “I told you so.” Even when you have found the perfect solution, you must be careful about how you relay it to the customers. Saying the right thing in the wrong manner and at the wrong time is a perfect way to derail a customer service case.
To be timely with your solutions, you must pay attention to the person and the problem. Exercise emotional intelligence and determine how the customer will react to different answers at various times. This is how you can give sound advice that the customer will feel they can trust.