Your Customers Are Playing Chinese Whispers – But Are You Listening?

Are your ears burning? They should be. Because your customers are talking about you around the clock.

Achieving customer loyaltyYou might think your day ends at 5:30pm but after hours, while you’re eating dinner, brushing your teeth, sleeping – your customers are indirectly trying to tell you how to improve your products and services and treat them better to retain their loyalty.

If you’ve a business Facebook or Twitter account, the last thing you need is to come into the office faced with hundreds of comments or complaints that require urgent responses.

Unless you employ someone to directly handle that, things could spiral out of control. And remember – once it’s on your wall, unless you respond to it and show your customers you’re doing your utmost to resolve the issue or delete it (sneaky and likely to get your customer even more fired up), your reputation could severely suffer.

So how do you keep on top of it?

Wake up and listen!

Monitoring social media is a good habit to get into as it means you’ll never miss a trick with customers who want to praise or slate your products or services. Yet there’s another way you can keep track of everything – something you might have overlooked…

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Warren Butler points out in his blog that the art of listening is partly in sharing, and that centralised CRM means the listening is done for you – and everyone can hear the results. Leslie McLellan recently shared an example on her blog of how listening – and acting – can product significant goodwill in customer service.

The beauty of your already-in-place CRM system means that the hard work is already done – all you need to do is sift through it with a fine tooth comb to pick out those golden nuggets of opportunity that could become your most promising leads.

Remember, don’t be afraid to dig back through the archives – someone might not have been a hot lead back in the day, but what’s to say they’re not now? And if you’ve already had a conversation with a particular company, it’s much more likely you’ll have a second conversation. If they weren’t interested in the beginning, you can be sure they’ll have let you know.

Redeveloping relationships with former customers is a great way to reignite that spark of interest and get people talking – and buying again. Why start from scratch again if you needn’t?

Hang on their last word

Face to face, over the phone or heard through the grapevine – every piece of feedback whether direct or indirect is a wealth of information you can either use yourself or pass on to another department to process.

Log any feedback you receive from a customer prospect within your CRM system as you never know when you might need to return to it. If you’re not using a CRM system equipped to ‘listen’ by connecting your e-mail marketing campaigns, web tracking and surveys, be sure to look into a new or supplementary Cloud-based system to avoid missing out.

Social media stats which speak for themselves

Splitting your time equally between CRM monitoring and social media analysis is key – relying solely on one channel will only give you access to a narrow selection of customers. Scope out every avenue and you’ll have more success overall.

A survey of 2,000 people by Ernst & Young recently found that most customers believe organisations are failing when it comes to managing their interactions with them through social media. With 80% of respondents using social media in some way and 67% saying that social media directly influences their purchase decisions, it’s imperative that businesses respond now to the growing trend.

Key findings include:

  • Only 15% of customers believe organisations are doing a good job when it comes to managing and interacting with them via social media
  • Customers are generally seeking a deeper more meaningful connection with businesses through social media, 1 in 6 users want to co-develop future products and services
  • Social media has an even greater influence on the purchasing decisions of customers between 18-35 who are also higher users of social media

If content is king, you should be setting a royal example

Creating compelling content is not only important, it’s crucial. Not only will it help create brand awareness, it’ll also encourage traffic to your site. And the more interesting, unique content you provide, the more likely it is that your customers will want to comment and share it with their friends and connections.

Don’t forget the competition

Although you might not think listening to what people are saying about your competitors might be a customer service opportunity – listening to the conversations around your competitors’ products it the perfect opportunity to fill a need that your competitors cannot.

This kind of competitive intelligence can also lead you to new product offerings and potential new product features. We focus so much of our time and energy on engaging and interacting with our social customers that we may forget that it’s alright to sit back and listen once in a while.

When you take the time to listen and respond considerately, social consumers will come to rely on the customer service you provide. It will also open the lines of communication and give you back so much more than you invest.

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