The more you know your customers, the easier they are to reach and cheaper they are to acquire.
So why do businesses not listen to them?
It should go without saying that customers are one of the two most important parts of your business, the other being your internal team if you have one. Yet still, customers are so often neglected by many businesses.
Today more than ever, we have a huge advantage in that these people, your customers, are giving you information every single moment of every single day and night. They are without a doubt the most untapped asset, which I believe every business is missing out on, and it’s a super simple fix.
How to Listen to Customers and Potential Customers
What do I mean by that? I’m talking about the actions we can take and the many tools at our disposal that allow us to listen to what and how customers are thinking, saying and purchasing.
For starters, think about the opportunities that market research, sales calls, in-store visits, customer service calls, industry trends, and demand give us. Then look at listening tools such as Google Analytics and Hotjar which can understand customers’ behaviours, map their journeys and let us learn how to improve their experience.
It’s not just about the products but the entire customer journey including the why, where and when. Creating or having a product to sell, doesn’t mean success, without researching to understand if customers want it.
I could talk to you all day about other examples of businesses not listening to their customers and missing sales every day, but here are some key areas.
- Why you? – What makes your business stand out from the competition and what is your unique selling point (USP)? Is this a great delivery service, excellent customer service or knowledgeable expertise. Remember USPs aren’t all about you, but about what your customers want.
- Wrong product/service – How many kitchens have an electric potato peeler sitting at the back of the cupboard? If you’re the only person who thinks your product is amazing, you’re setting yourself up to fail from the beginning.
- Wrong offering – If you try to sell to the wrong audience, they won’t see the worth or usefulness of your product. Newspaper brands historically have had a particular audience for their editorial style, stories covered and values. Similarly, the scenario of marketing to students is difficult, as they are often transient, cynical and cash-strapped.
- Customer service – Competition in any industry or business is fierce and sometimes the only difference between you and your competitor is the level of customer service. This is not what you think is good customer service, but how your customers rate your service.
It’s Time to Think Like a Customer
As a business, you should aim to be less of a sieve and more of a bucket to catch all the customers, rather than let them fall through the sieve because you haven’t listened to what they want. It’s an old saying but still rings true; we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We can learn a lot more if we ‘listen’ 80% and ‘do’ 20% of the time.
It’s important to put yourself in the customer’s shoes, to not only listen but understand their problems. Wearing their shoes means you can feel their pain and be in a better position to solve their issues the first time.
It is also much harder to sell something if you haven’t purchased it yourself or be been through the buying process. Assuming it’s a funnel journey is so often wrong, never assume the customer knows everything, they don’t, and never assume they are buying in a way that you want – they won’t be.
Listen, Learn, Action
To listen and not hear is a fundamental error, you need to learn to love your customers. That is not to say that everything has to be acted upon, but it should be listened to in order to learn, reflect and act appropriately.
- Listen – You can listen to what customers are saying in many places, such as on the shop floor and through your website. Listen to how they use language (tech, non-tech). Once you’ve listened, speak to them – call them, chat to them – this will make them feel special and value the fact that you are asking questions.
- Learn – Through listening you’ll get an understanding of their pains, their wants, their language and more importantly what they aren’t getting from your business.
- Action – If you don’t you action the changes that are needed you will be losing sales. Make a plan from what you’ve learned and put this into action, I guarantee this will generate your company income and reduce your marketing budget.
This isn’t a job you do once and then tick off the list. Listening to your customers should be an ongoing task with a quarterly action plan of what you’ve learned and what needs actioning.
Is it time you started listening to your customers? Make this your new mantra; Listen – Learn – Action – Repeat and see the difference it makes to your business.