If you know anything about business, then you know that the customer-business relationship is truly a two-way street. To serve people well and drive sales, you can’t just yap at people and operate on your own assumptions. You have to be a listening brand. What does that take? How can you figure out what customers are saying about you so you can make good decisions and keep them happy?
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A ‘LISTENING BRAND’
Being a listening brand first means that you have feedback channels across all touchpoints. These allow you, for example, to understand the difference between how the website is doing compared to your store or service center.
You have many options for feedback channels. For instance, you can chat with people face-to-face in the store, give an option to leave a review, or ask a question or two at the end of a service call. Surveys are a solid option that offers high flexibility. You can do these as exit pop-ups, mailers, or even opt-in texts by using an omnichannel survey software.
No matter what feedback channels you select, the key thing to remember is that being a listening brand goes beyond just engaging once or twice a year with a certain percentage of your customers. It means always being on. People can come to you and leave feedback whenever they want to, not just when you think it’s necessary.
WHY BEING AN ‘ALWAYS ON’ LISTENING BRAND MATTERS
Being a listening brand across the entire customer journey means you can accurately determine pain points and direct your resources where friction really is happening. It can also allow you to innovate based on customer requests and concepts. Constant listening through the journey also gives the customer the impression that they can truly count on you wherever they might happen to be in the sales channel. That’s priceless when it comes to building trust.
The other big element is mitigating risk. If you don’t have other feedback channels open, then people are going to shout their complaints from the highest mountain they have. In the tech age, that’s social media. Eavesdropping on those conversations can give you a start on solving some issues. But that isn’t ideal because you’re not really aiding in the conversation or asking specific questions when you do this. Having the other feedback channels available often allows you to catch problems very early on, before those issues “go wild” and become impossible to manage. That, in turn, makes it easier to course correct.
When it comes to collecting feedback, you could very well run into someone who’s just having a bad day and says something negative as a result. They may be a statistically insignificant outlier and not really represent most of your customers. On the other hand, what if you have someone who’s not just being grouchy? What if there really is something wrong you need to fix, and they’re the only customer who’s spotted it or had an issue so far? If you’re not listening properly across your channels over time, then you could miss the opportunity to hear that customer out and get ahead of an issue.
As an example, in one big retailer my company used to work with, someone put out mouse traps in the pet section of their store. A customer saw a dead rat in one of the traps and left feedback on it. We were able to take that single piece of feedback and have the retailer get rid of the rat fast. If that one customer hadn’t tipped us off, the situation could have blown up into a monstrous brand problem.
Remember, even though multiple complaints are a red flag, even one complaint can reveal important truths and give you the chance to solve a problem before it becomes a huge issue.
WHEN YOU’RE ALWAYS ON, YOU CAN MAKE QUICK IMPROVEMENTS
In today’s fast-paced market where people have all kinds of global choices, communicating with and responding to your customers is vital. You need to know what they are saying about you through the entire customer journey, and the best way to do that is to open feedback channels over every touchpoint. Becoming an “always-on” listening brand can help ensure you can innovate, build trust, course correct, and reduce your risks.