Start a conversation with your customer? I know, it sounds crazy. Why in the world would you want to talk to the very people who choose to do business with
I trust you can see my tongue poking through my cheek, but the truth is, most businesses give lip service to the idea of starting a conversation with their
customers, but few actually do.
Let’s agree on a few points right up front:
It’s cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one.
It’s cheaper to sell more to a current customer than to make the first sale to a new customer.
There’s no better marketing than word of mouth, which usually comes from your current customers
Those truths would suggest that our current clients are pretty important to our business’ long-term success. Despite that fact, most businesses executives:
Don’t invest enough of their marketing budget/efforts on their current customers.
Don’t routinely thank (other than the pre-printed thank you at the bottom of your invoice) current clients.
Don’t listen enough to their current customers.
This begs the question: Why in the world do we ignore our best bet at success?
Let’s focus on the listening issue. No one knows what it’s like to buy products or services from us like the very people who buy our products and services.
And yet, the vast majority of businesses never bother to ask for feedback. Or if they do, they ask for feedback in a way that makes it so difficult to
provide the feedback, that the customer ops not to. In most cases, the first chance the customer has to provide real, honest feedback is when they walk
away and give their money to a competitor.
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I think there are a few reasons why organizations don’t seek customer feedback:
Bad time management.
One of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make is to not actively and regularly seek out your clients’ input and insights. The only mistake
worse than not asking for client input, is to ask for it and then not doing anything to fix the issues you uncover. In the case of the latter,
you’ve asked for their opinion and then told them how little you care by ignoring their concerns.
Let’s assume you have found the courage and the time to listen. Are you ready to start a conversation with your customer? How do you go about it? Depending
on your organization’s size and budget, you can make it as simple or regimented as you need.
Start a conversation:
Take your client to lunch and ask how they think your organization is doing. Ask, too, what they might recommend you consider doing moving forward. Or,
walk up to a customer in your store and comment on the updated layout or a new product you’ve released.
It can be that simple
Sometimes the best way to listen is to watch. Hone in on how people move through your store or website. Pay attention to what they pick up or mouse over.
Consider too, what their social habits are—follow their activity on Facebook or Twitter.
Ask on a schedule:
Once a quarter or once a year—reach out to your customers with a survey. Then (and this is
vital)—report back to them what you learned and what you’re going to do about it.
Do true market research:
If you’re big enough and have the budget, do more than antidotal research. Hire a research professional and crunch the numbers. Build a benchmark that you
can measure against, time and time again.
If you and your organization are not ready to jump in, start by dipping your toes into listening. Make this a habit. Don’t wait too long to start the
conversation though. If you do, your customers could already be swimming in your competitor’s pool.
Drew McLellan’s blog is recommended for entrepreneurs, as his passion is to help clients discover their
story so they can create authentic love affairs with their customers. He’s also an author, national speaker and has owned McLellan Marketing Group since 1995.