Lend an Ear and Listen to Your Customers
Achieving lasting customer satisfaction depends on asking buyers what they want and listening closely to their feedback. Companies that don’t actively listen to their customers are shooting themselves in the foot.
Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca once said, “Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”
Consider that for every 26 unhappy customers, only one on average takes the time to lodge a formal complaint, according to research by TARP
. In other words, 25 dissatisfied customers may choose another provider, or even worse, they will spread negative word-of-mouth criticism by sharing their complaints with family, friends and co-workers.
Organizations have many ways of listening to their customers, including via call centers, surveys, point-of-sale interactions, direct observations, social media posts, and of course crowd-solving sessions.
Apple is known for championing a method known as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which tracks promoters and detractors on a 10-point scale. Promoters are those customers who would definitely recommend a product or service to others. Apple uses this system to track the performance of its retail stores, according to CaseStudyInc.com
The Apple NPS team compiles customer feedback from stores to identify the strongest promoters and detractors. Store managers then call back all detractors within one day to follow up, resulting in increased satisfaction and greater sales.
Another global company, Xerox, relies on relationship surveys, transactional surveys and social media to gauge customer sentiment. Xerox has implemented several specific programs to improve communications with its customers as well. For example, 36 company officers participate in the “Customer Care Officer of the Day” program, in which one executive is appointed daily to contact customers directly and help solve their problems.
The “Xerox Corporate Focus Executive Program” was created to strengthen relationships with the company’s top 100 accounts. Xerox also stages in-person events nationwide as part of its “Xerox Focus Forward” program. At those live events, current customers and prospects gather together to learn how Xerox can help them solve their real-world business problems.
All of these methods are valid and useful, and it’s worth experimenting with different approaches. The best way to understand what customers are trying to achieve is to look beyond what they are buying today, and listen instead to what would be more helpful to them tomorrow. Attentive listening is the best way to improve your products and services in order to drive future sales and increase customer loyalty.