Does your organization take pride in listening to customers? I am willing to bet that you do. After all, most companies pride themselves on listening to their customers.
But listening alone cannot do the job of building strong and long-lasting customer relationships. Here are some focused ways to not just listen, but engage customers in a productive relationship.
Rethink the Way You Get Information
Surveys are important, but if you send out a survey that asks 15 multiple-choice questions, you will end up with 15 responses to questions that might not have much to do with the most pressing issues that are on your customers’ minds. That’s why it is important to ask open-ended questions, like “What are three things we can do to better meet your expectations?” Divide the responses among the members of your executive team and have everyone review them. Also, take make time to read some of the responses yourself. The feedback you get could be invaluable.
Invite Customers to Join Advisory Panels
Panels can take many different forms. If your company sells high-ticket products, you would most likely want a permanent panel where members rotate in and out. If your company sells lower-priced products to a large customer base, your panels may be one-time events that include a large number of customers. And remember to invite customers who have had negative experiences. They can provide feedback that you will not hear from customers who are delighted with you.
Create Employee Panels Too
Panels of your employees who are regularly in touch with customers will give you insights that you cannot get anywhere else.
Stay in Touch with Your Biggest Customers
If you can pick up the phone every few weeks and ask them, “How did we do on your last order?” or, “Is there anything we can do for you that we’re not doing already?” you will hear feedback that can help you keep all your customers satisfied and loyal.
To Summarize . . .
If you want to hear what your customers are really thinking, you can’t sit back and wait for them to contact you. You need to ask for opinions in ways that are positive, innovative, imaginative and open.