5 Ways to Better Understand Your Customers, Today

Actionable methods to connect the entire organization with your end consumer.

Source

“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford

There’s no doubt about it: to drive business – any business – you need to understand your customer on a personal level and make their experience with your product or service both fruitful and enjoyable. In fact, 86% of today’s consumers will pay more for better brand experience.

That said, the best methods for getting this done come in the form of initiatives, like developing and defining customer personas, mapping customer journeys, or conducting behavioral analysis – but these take time. While studies of this kind are beneficial, and you should use them to enhance strategic focus and visioning, there are things you can do today to better understand and ultimately service your customers in the best possible way.

Here we explore five of these invaluable customer experience boosting approaches in great detail, offering actionable tips that you can use to grow and evolve your business in today’s competitive digital age.

1) Remember, EVERYONE in the Company is in the service business

All too often, we look to our Customer Service Reps as the only people in the organization tasked with servicing the customer’s needs, wants, and desires. You need to drop this thought – immediately.

Whether you’re the CEO, box maker, product designer, accountant, or janitor, your ultimate goal is supporting the customer. Whether directly or indirectly, your job depends on that end customer, and it is your responsibility to provide the best darn service, period. If everyone in the business approaches their jobs with a customer-focused mentality, the quality of your products, services, working relationships, and bottom line will only continue to rise.

Service-driven action ideas:

  • Get non-customer service people to spend time answering customer inquiries.
  • Start regularly sharing customer feedback – good and bad – with the whole company.
  • Openly reward ANYONE who contributes to positive customer feedback.

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2) Listen to Your Front Lines

The folks that are talking to consumers, answering emails from customers, and live chatting with those who have or are looking to invest in your company are sitting on a wealth of knowledge. Use it wisely.

These people will be the first to hear complaints, concerns, and kudos on every single one of your products and services. Have you spoken to them lately? As someone who has led a CS organization, I can appreciate that at first, this can sometimes turn into a “complaint session”, and you may get a lot of stuff thrown your way at once. If that is the case, it’s likely because they have felt unheard, unnoticed, and overlooked – always keep this in mind.

Front line-centric action ideas:

  • Establish a regularly scheduled meeting (maybe monthly at first, then quarterly) where one to two agents are present and have collected recurring feedback they’ve heard from customers since the last time you met. Once you’ve analyzed the feedback, close the communication loop by letting your front line representatives know what you are going to act on, the areas in which you’re looking for more detail, and what you are going to let ride – and why. Doing so will let your customer-facing talent know they’ve been heard while keeping you from hearing the same concerns over and over again; issues that cannot be addressed for various reasons.
  • Turn the feedback into the kind of action that will reduce call volume by updating self-service FAQs.
  • Reach out to the customers who gave particularly valuable feedback and thank them personally. You’ll create customers-for-life – and in the world of business, customer retention is everything.

3) Read Your Online Reviews

Customer reviews are like gold dust. In fact, almost 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. Moreover, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase in light of reading a trusted review.

So, yes, there is someone in your organization responsible for collecting these customer reviews because they can increase your conversion rate. Online reviews are a gold mine for other reasons too: they will spark ideas for new products or services, give you an insight into what people love and hate about your products and services, and identify themes that carry over across products or service lines.  

Maybe people love your products and hate your assembly process. Wouldn’t you like to know that?  Wouldn’t you love to see patterns across these kinds of online reviews so that you can act upon them?  Online reviews will give you an unedited glimpse into the minds of your customers, and by reading them often enough, you’ll soon start to pick up patterns, prioritizing opportunities to take positive action in the process.

Online review-based action tips:

  • Regularly share relevant online reviews with the entire company, highlighting accountability. Positive feedback is an opportunity to increase morale, and negative feedback can motivate positive change.
  • If the review platform supports responses, reply to your online reviews. Doing so will demonstrate that you’re listening.
  • Collect a host of some good reviews and add them to your website as testimonials.

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4) Listen in on Phone Calls

Make it an absolute priority for every member of the organization to listen to phone calls and read email communications from your customers on a regular basis.

At a minimum, listening in on calls should be part of every person’s onboarding process; it should also form part of your annual employee training initiative. I also suggest that each person within the business listens in during your peak season, if applicable. I cannot tell you how valuable this was during my time working at a toy manufacturing company. Our product designer, especially, loved doing this and would announce who he was and that he was listening in on the call.  

In turn, the customers loved knowing that everyone made time to hear their thoughts and opinions, and each employee took away a golden nugget from every session.

Phone-listening action ideas:

  • Record and randomly review phone calls on a rolling weekly basis.
  • Use recorded calls for training purposes to help exemplify best practices.
  • Have everyone in the company spend 20 minutes listening in on calls once or twice per year.


5) Talk to Your Customers

In today’s hyper-connected digital world, there are seemingly infinite ways to talk to your end customer, and people want to be heard, so there is no reason you shouldn’t be doing this.

Team up with the person in your organization responsible for communications.  Let them know the kind of areas or subjects you would be interested in hearing about regarding your customers so you can start an active dialogue.

Allow your communications expert to plan the very best ways to ask customers the most burning questions about your organization. An email survey? A Facebook poll? A Facebook live event?  The possibilities are endless. And yes, your competitors may see this information, and they may act on it. But guess what? You are the ones showing your customers that you care about their needs, and they will not forget which brand was looking to make a direct connection with them in a hurry – believe me.

Customer communication action ideas:

  • Make regular customer outreach a quarterly KPI for ALL managers and executives.
  • Script the calls so they stay on track, consistently.
  • Make sure to follow-up promptly on your communications, when warranted.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Damon Richards

As you can see, there are many opportunities for improving the customer experience. And if you take these actions today, they will start paying off tomorrow.  

For more on how to create a service culture focused on the end customer in your organization, reach out to Tena Crock, Doug Nugent, or anyone on the Chameleon Collective Team. We can help create a customer-first strategic vision, execution plan, and measurements of success to allow you to set your brand apart from the others. We can also help with tailored personal development and customer journey mapping. Let’s talk!

This blog was co-authored by Tena Crock and Doug Nugent.

SOURCES:

http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/cust-exp-impact-report-epss-1560493.pdf

https://learn.g2crowd.com/customer-reviews-statistics

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ekaterinawalter/2014/03/04/40-eye-opening-customer-service-quotes/#6a4f6ea06b7b


About The Author

Tena Crock // Interim VP of E-Commerce/CX
Driven by transparency, authenticity, and results, Tena Crock, is an experienced senior level leader with 15+ years of Ecommerce and digital marketing experience. Through 2016, Tena served as Vice President of eCommerce and digital marketing at The Step2 Company, a manufacturer of children’s toys,… Learn More

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