We all know what it feels like when you’re talking to someone who just isn’t listening to a flipping word that you’re saying. This person may have given you some of the regular signs to suggest they were listening, like nodding or shaking their head in response, but they still missed the whole point of what you were talking about.
You can talk all you want at a brick wall, but that wall isn’t going to understand or act on what you’re saying. Nobody wants their customer to feel this way, which is why listening is vital to delivering an optimal customer experience.
You can talk all you want with your customer, but to have a truly engaging conversation with them, this requires listening. Listening may sound simple, if not obvious, but it takes a whole lot of effort. Actively listening means being able to acknowledge what your customer is saying, being able to recall this information, and then take action if this is what is required.
The benefits of effective listening for customer experience are often underestimated, which is why we’ve put together our list of 5 chief reasons why listening is worth investing in for you and your customer.
1. Listening Provides You with a Richer Understanding of Your Customer
When we hear the term listening, often the first thing that comes to mind is listening in a face-to-face or over the phone conversation. While these forms are still important, collecting and interpreting customer data correctly is another form of listening that is particularly significant for retailers today. This newer form of listening revolves around collecting, analysing and interpreting big data. Thoroughly analysing and interpreting the data collected can alert you to certain customer behaviour and preferences that you need to be aware of so you can offer a personalised experience and anticipate what they are thinking. At the end of this interpretation process, your brand will be able to understand your customer’s preferences before they set foot instore or go to browse online. As a result, your customer will feel like you know them on a more personal level because you have effectively “listened” to their data.
2. Listening Encourages Positive Feedback
Customers are extremely quick when it comes to spreading the word about negative customer experience, but they also love being able to recommend a stellar brand that they love to shop with. Listening to your customer means engaging with them, and this engagement makes customers feel appreciated and valued. This is the kind of relationship that customers will talk about, and your brand can then benefit from this word of mouth feedback. Rather than focusing on reactionary strategies to rectify a negative customer experience where a customer felt like their concern was ignored or not understood, listening can be used as a proactive strategy to avoid this negative experience occurring. Whilst this isn’t an instant fix to all problems, it is still incredibly powerful in reducing the likelihood of these instances occurring or escalating.
3. Listening Breeds Customer Loyalty
Gaining new customers is great, but what about all the customers that you already have? A fantastic product/service won’t be worth their while if they don’t feel like their thoughts or opinions about their shopping experience matter, which is why listening is crucial to ensuring that customers know this is not the case. If a customer is told that not only has their feedback been acknowledged, but that a brand is taking steps to plan or implement a change based on that feedback, this will be music to their ears. Even better, once they see the effect of the changes you put into place, a customer will know what you mean what you say. It’s one thing for a brand to thank a customer for their feedback and say that their opinions are heard, but it’s another for a brand to prove to that customer that they take those words very seriously. The end result- customers will want to stick with you because they know their worth to your company.
4. Listening Means Happy Employees
If your employees know that their ideas and feelings are heard by the rest of the team and management, they will be much more likely to deliver a much better customer experience for your customer. One example could be giving your employees the opportunity to provide feedback on a regular basis about how different systems are working. Do they need more assistance at certain times in the day? Are new technologies causing any pain points or are they making it easier for them serve customers? Are there any recurring questions that customers often ask? Are they equipped with enough information/resources to answer those questions? Listening to your employees will help them to help your customers. It’s fundamental for your employees to actively listen to customers, but it’s also fundamental for a brand to work back from the customer focal point and determine whether employees are treated in the same way.
5. Listening Reduces the Likelihood of Miscommunication
Miscommunication lead to frustration, which leads to angry customers and negative feedback. This negative feedback has the potential to be avoided if companies can assess what tools need to be improved or introduced to make sure that customer desires and concerns are understood correctly. Taking the time to follow-up and ask further questions reduces the chances of feedback being misunderstood, meaning that there’s a higher chance of the issue being resolved efficiently and effectively. Customers will sense if the person they are talking to is not taking the time to truly understand what it is they want, which is why it is critical that they are given the time and attention needed to assure them that they really are understood. Reducing the frequency of miscommunications will lead to quicker resolutions, and a higher chance of positive customer feedback.
Active listening is a lot easier said than done, but when practiced regularly, it can and does build positive relationships between brands and their customers.
Listening is a constant process and forms part of the feedback loop, which is why retailers need to invest in the right tools to constantly learn what their customers want and apply these learnings fast and effectively.