Why you should listen to your customers
Last week, my friend called to reflect on an exchange she had with her coworker. Her team was meeting to discuss roles on a new project and the lead named her coworker, a man who had been at the company for less time and had fewer technical qualifications, as project manager. She wanted to know, “Was the lead angry with her? Did she do something wrong? Was bias at play?” My response was simple, “Why not ask him?” If you want to know more, ask for more information. Common sense, right? So, why isn’t it common practice?
Asking for feedback and truly listening is hard. It requires courage to have difficult conversations and the willingness to change in response to what we hear. It’s hard to ask a friend, spouse, or coworker, “What could I have done better in that situation?” But, in doing so, we grow and build stronger relationships.
Listening is an equally important aspect of strong business relationships—and your organization’s profitability depends on it. For every customer who complains, 26 will say nothing, then move on to your competitor.And, that churn is expensive: it costs five times more to attract a new customer, than it does to retain an existing one.If you don’t ask your customers for their feedback—particularly those 26 who walked out the door—you won’t be able to prevent the next 26 from doing the same. Put simply, proactively asking for feedback, listening to your customers and taking deliberate action will benefit your bottom line.
Listening to your customers can also drive topline revenue. Compared to new customers, existing customers spend 30% more. Returning customers are also a great source of insight into new product/service opportunities. And, they’re 50% more likely than new customers to try those new products/services and provide feedback.
How you can listen better
It’s not enough just to hear what your customers say. Active listening means demonstrating you heard what they said andyou’re doing something about it. When working with clients, we often use the refrain, “We asked. We heard. We did.” It’s a simple way to remember that active listening is not complete until you share out what you asked, what you heard, and what did with that information.
There are many ways to ask for feedback, and you’re probably already doing some of them:
There are also a number of ways to show you heard them:
Consider these ways to act on feedbackacross your organization:
Active listening can and will change the course of your relationships. My friend took my advice and set a meeting with the project lead for the following day. She started from a place of curiosity, asking simply, “Can you share more about how you made the team role decisions for our new project?” What she heard surprised her. The lead had seen my friend working late recently and noticed her logging extra hours to redevelop one of their core product offerings; he thought the redevelopment work was imperative and simply wanted to ensure she had the capacity to focus. Not only did this conversation resolve a one-time miscommunication, but it enabled my friend and her coworker to explore how they could better communicate and collaborate in the future.
At Coraggio, we specialize in helping organizations listen to their customers, synthesize what they say into actionable insights, and identify key strategies to address leverage strengths/opportunities and address weaknesses/threats. Contact us if you’re interested in exploring how your organization can better listen to and act on customer feedback.
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