Author: Mitch McFarland
You have the very best intentions: You focus on your customers. You want every interaction with your organization to be productive. You know it’s vital to hear what they have to say, so you open as many channels as possible to gather their feedback. How do you make the most of this critical feedback?
Listening posts provide the highest benefit when they are strategically aligned to pivotal moments in the customer journey; and when you have an established process to address any issues they uncover. Otherwise, you risk adding noise and negatively impacting your customer experience.
It’s no secret that optimizing the customer experience starts with knowing who your customers are and how they interact with your organization. Armed with this information, you can identify significant moments of interaction for your customers—the moments that matter to them. This is where customers form their strongest opinions about your value to them. Positive experiences can deepen stickiness and advocacy; negative experiences can decrease the likelihood of repeat purchases or renewals. The insights you gain by engaging with your customers at these key moments are of much greater value to you than those acquired at random points along the customer journey. Now, what to do with these valuable insights?
We’ve all had the opportunity to respond to a listening post as a customer. But how often have you received a response beyond a generic ‘thank you’? Collecting feedback—just listening—isn’t enough. Your customers want you to do something about the issue they’re experiencing. A successful listening post entails two-way communication—a feedback loop—and how you respond is just as critical as giving your customers an opportunity to voice their opinions.
Empathy and emotional intelligence are vital elements of a successful customer experience. By fostering an empathetic culture throughout your organization, you’ll be able to field customer complaints and concerns, which are often rooted in intense emotions, with compassion and calm. More importantly, however, such a culture will allow you step into your customers’ shoes and proactively troubleshoot different scenarios: “How would I feel if I were overcharged $2 every month for my subscription service?” “How would I want that situation addressed?” How you respond to those scenarios can lead to the retention of your customer and the creation of advocates of your product or service.
Another way to learn about your customers, their behavior, and their experiences with your organization is to engage your frontline employees who interact with them on a daily basis. These are the people who field their questions, hear their complaints, and have the most holistic view of the customer experience you’re providing. Learning from your frontline employees—and empowering them to address your customers’ needs—will go a long way toward improving your customer experience and gaining their loyalty. It’s critical that your employees are a contributing member of the feedback loop.
While aligning listening posts to moments that matter to your customers and creating processes to quickly respond to their needs may seem like common sense, it’s easy for these efforts to get lost in the day-to-day business of running an organization. But without these strategies in place—no matter how good your intentions—you run the risk of disappointing your customers and harming your bottom line.
Taking the time to fully understand your customers; how they interact with you; what matters to them and how you can develop, refine, and improve your products and services based on their feedback will allow you to positively impact the customer experience and position your organization for sustained success.
Mitch McFarland brings a unique blend of people skills, accounting prowess and passion for continuous learning to everything he does.