We live in a noisy world.
At the office — meetings, printers, open plans. At home — children, relatives, construction noise.
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With all this constant chatter, it’s easy to become so desensitized that we stop actively listening.
Unfortunately, this can harm our listening skills. And if you’re a company trying to close as many deals as possible, listening to your customers is paramount.
Genuinely listening to customers means understanding their needs better and preventing customer churn.
This guide teaches you how to truly listen to your most important stakeholders — your customers.
So, prick up those ears. You’re about to learn a lot.
Why you should listen to your customers
Conversations during the selling process must be a two-way street — you want your potential or existing customers to know how your product or service will benefit them, but you need to give them your ear too!
Your customers are human and desire to be heard — and, frankly, it’s in your best interest to do so.
Customer satisfaction hinges on your close attention to their needs and wants.
Listening is the only way to know what those needs and wants are.
It offers so many benefits:
Now, let’s delve deeper into the benefits of actively listening to your customers.
Your customers know what they want
No matter how much market research you do, the only way to be sure about what customers want is to listen to their pain points.
Your assumptions on features, price range, and even the new product they seek could be completely wrong. Play it safe and listen to your customers’ concerns.
According to a report by Infosys, 59 percent of customers who’ve experienced personalized service say it had a noticeable effect on their purchasing decisions.
So, you’d be a fool not to leverage the information they give you. Not to sound like a broken record, but that information can only come from the customers.
Of course, listening to customer needs should be ongoing. As you advance the relationship from potential customers to paying customers, adopting a customer-centric approach of listening to their changing needs will ultimately secure customer loyalty.
You’re not the only one with valuable insights
Your product or service, selling process, and customer support are top-notch, but your customers might have a different perception.
Asking for customer feedback through customer reviews and your CRM software can help you reshape your offering, how you sell, and your customer service strategies, thus improving the customer experience.
Their feedback will help you keep their business and attract new customers. After all, good word of mouth spreads and counts for a lot.
It improves customer retention
When you get to know your customers, you can adjust your selling and communication style to match how they like to be approached. As a result, you increase the likelihood that they will continue to work with you.
Almost 65% of a company’s business comes from repeat customers, so it’s clear why prioritizing listening is essential. Listening and acknowledging customer insights is what’ll earn you loyal customers.
And that’s the kind of customer relationship every business should pursue.
It makes upselling easier
People like being listened to; when they are, they feel a sense of belonging and empathy.
Customers who feel appreciated are more inclined to listen to you when you present a solution.
Upselling is an essential part of making money as a business. That’s why it’s always a component of sales training, for instance.
That said, you don’t want your reps to come across as predatory salespeople just looking for a quick buck.
Whether you’re a huge corporation, a small business, or a startup, the way to upsell is to listen to your customers’ needs and present your solution to their pain points.
That way, it won’t feel like upselling at all. Instead, customers will see you as a trusted solution provider.
It creates brand ambassadors
People love to talk. If you consistently provide a positive customer experience, their friends, family, and colleagues will hear about it.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any advertisement.
As we all know by now, word of mouth is one of the most coveted kinds of marketing because it’s so effective.
Whether face-to-face or through social media, people who feel seen and heard by your company will spread positive word of mouth, earning you a good reputation among potential customers.
It cultivates customer loyalty
Even if your product or service is excellent, you’re still not free from the danger of increasing churn rates.
Why? Because even one bad interaction with your sales rep or service agent can cause a customer to bounce and not return.
There’s little margin for error in how you treat customers, whether during sales calls or when a support agent is troubleshooting their issue.
Showing the customer you listen and care is paramount for customer loyalty and retention.
Markets are big these days, and you’re probably not the only game in town. So, reducing churn should be a priority.
Here’s a fun question — do you know how to listen? You’re most likely saying yes, but you’re most likely wrong. We’ll show you why in the next section.
How to listen to your customers
Everyone thinks they know how to listen correctly. But if that’s the case, why is “you’re not listening to me” the typical thing people say in an argument?
The truth is most of us don’t listen as effectively as we can. As a result, we miss crucial information and lose chances for connection and collaboration.
So, here’s what you need to do to listen to your customers properly.
Let’s examine each of these steps in more detail.
Use active listening
Active listening is a powerful communication technique used to build strong relationships, resolve conflicts, and improve communication.
To listen actively takes more than just hearing what’s being said. You need to pay close attention to the speaker’s words, body language, and tone of voice. Then you use all that info to understand their perspective better and show empathy.
Active listening skills include asking clarifying questions, summarizing the other person’s words, and providing feedback.
It should go without saying that all this is very useful in customer relationship management. Everyone from sales reps to support agents to those involved in customer training and onboarding should practice it.
And, of course, active listening goes beyond just customer service. It’s a valuable skill in managing teams as well.
Best of all, you can learn how to do this. There are many resources and online learning courses on active listening to help you out.
Be the one to reach out first
If you want to hear what your customers have to say, you can’t wait for them to get in touch with you. Instead, you must be proactive and take the lead in the conversation.
Regular communication in newsletters, product updates, and social media posts allows customers to interact with you.
When you respond to them, they’ll feel like they’re being heard and acknowledged.
To help you out here, you can use email and post automation features to ensure regular communication. After a customer responds to something, direct them to the relevant person in your organization.
Focus on the person
If you just look at your customer as a set of pain points to solve with your product, you’re missing out on the human element of the customer service equation.
Always keep the person in mind. Pay attention to a customer’s personality and opinions during a sales or support call.
Even if you have the right solution for their issue, you have to think about how the person will react to what you’re saying.
For instance, a potential customer can be very attached to certain equipment or software. Even if yours is objectively better, they might respond negatively to your suggestion to swap it.
In that case, you’ll have to actively listen to see what’s at the root of the attachment and address how your solution will satisfy the same criteria, only better.
Customer education (customer training) means taking a focused and programmatic approach to onboard, engage, and retain customers.
These programs help users better understand your product and find value in it faster.
Educating customers is vital for companies with complex services or products requiring users to change their workflows, processes, or behaviors.
But how does it help you listen better? The way it does so is a little roundabout.
Offering your customers ways to get to know your products and services better means they can more precisely articulate their needs and feedback to you.
Customer training also strengthens the bond between you and your customer.
These two things, taken together, facilitate more effective communication, allowing both sides to be better listeners.
It’s best to use a learning management system (LMS) to make customer training as effective as possible.
Top LMSs like Docebo offer features to support customer education. From delivering customer training modules at scale to tracking the results with powerful analytics, Docebo lets you control the entire process from a central location.
It integrates seamlessly with leading customer relationship management (CRM) systems, giving you a clear view of consumers’ interactions with your company.
What’s more, you can easily gather and manage customer feedback and tailor the customer experience based on their preferences and requirements. Serving relevant content recommendations shows your customers that you are actively listening and understanding their unique needs.
Engage through the proper channels
Depending on your customer base, you’ll have users who prefer phone calls to online chats or use social media more than email.
There are a lot of communication channels these days, so your sales reps and support agents need to be masters of all of them.
You should always try to engage a customer on their preferred channel. For instance, millennials tend to prefer chats and social media. In contrast, those in the Boomer or Gen X category often prefer to solve things by phone.
Have the marketing department assess your customer personas and see which channels are the most popular in your user base. Meeting your customer base where they already are will make them feel more comfortable interacting with your representatives.
There can’t be effective communication if people are uncomfortable with or frustrated by the available communication channels.
Now over to you
Listening is one of those things people think they’re good at but most often aren’t.
And yet, open ears lead to open doors (and new customers).
For your business, adopting a customer-centric approach of listening to consumers’ needs means reducing churn, boosting loyalty, earning positive word of mouth, and closing deals.
Customer education is essential for fostering a positive customer experience, which, in turn, facilitates effective communication. Therefore, the first step in listening to your customers is to educate them on your product and services.
Discover how Docebo can help you offer the best customer training possible. Schedule a demo today to talk to our experts and get started.