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Listening to Customers Is the Key to Smart Growth

by Michael O'Mara, on Jul 13, 2022 1:02:54 PM

Customers want two things in a transactional relationship: to get what they paid for and to be treated like a person. Treat your customer like a number on a spreadsheet and that’s exactly how they’ll treat you. Before you know it, they’re out the door and buying from a different company. 

No salesperson or customer service professional intends to treat a customer poorly. There are so many different factors that go into lead conversion. But that initial and sustained engagement, and whether you spent the time to truly listen and understand your customer, is crucial. 

You must connect with your customer. Not just to complete a sale. But to understand where they’re coming from, what they need, and whether or not you’re the best fit to help them reach their goal. 

Listening is arguably the most important aspect of communication. You know that urge to speak up when your teammate or customer’s talking? Yeah, that’s bad listening. We’re all guilty of it at some point. To wrap this bit up real nice, listening to your customers boosts how much information you retain and how many customers stick around.

3 Reasons to Listen to Customers

1. Boost Customer Retention

Traditional sales push. Listening pulls. Sit back and listen to the customer’s problems and needs. Identify key areas of opportunity that you can help them with. When you listen, you retain. Both information and customers themselves. If the listening is good, the customers are even better. That positive interaction leads to sustained business, greater word of mouth, and customer service or sales people that feel better about a job well done. Speaking of feeling better…

2. Be Kind For Goodness Sake

Listening is just the kind thing to do. Don’t a rude rube. Conversation is a two-way street. Share the road and just talk with your customer. Show them an appropriate level of mutual respect that you’d want from a transactional relationship. This is a careful balance. Too much kindness and you risk alienating your customer. Not enough and you’re just a cold, distant businessperson. With practice, feedback, and more practice, you’ll find the balance that works best for you.

3. No More Churn

Churn is exhausting for everyone involved. Customers need to find a different service provider while your business is stuck finding new customers to replace the old ones. You will always have customers that end a business relationship or buy once and never again. Just make sure poor listening isn’t the reason they bolted for a different business. Sometimes, all a customer needs is a service rendered and a general reminder that you’re still around to help them when they need you.

4 Tips for Listening to Your Customers

Alright, maybe listening doesn’t come naturally to you. That’s okay. As I said before, we’re all guilty of bad listening habits sometimes. The goal here is to identify when to listen, when to speak, and identify in real-time when you need to improve. It’s a great soft skill for sales calls, meetings, storefronts, and customer service managers.

1. Become an Active Listener

We’ve been talking about it this whole time! Passive listening is listening without active presence. You know how to think before speaking. Do that before listening. As I mentioned before, listening is even more important than the words that come out of your mouth. It’s how you avoid saying something you shouldn’t, speaking over someone else, or failing to understand what that person is saying. Failure to develop active listening skills leads to mixed messages, frustration, wasted time, and confusion. Nothing good there.

2. Body Language Speaks

Deadpan stares and slouches are the language of the disinterested. Nods, consistent (but not creepy) eye contact, and a consistent posture are three key body language tips for any conversation, in person, online, and even over the phone. This is a great tool in a broadcaster’s toolbelt: they teach you to smile as you speak, picture a person right in front of you, and move your body as if it's an active conversation. You’re not reading and you’re not talking to a robot! Time to human it up.

3. Comprehend and Gather Information

These last two tips are all about questions, answers, and more questions. If you have a customer with a particularly challenging problem, part of listening to their problem is communicating that you understand it or need clarification. This is by no means passive-aggressive. Think of the difference between aggressive and assertive. You never want to be aggressive. But asserting your point of view is a great way to show that you’re here to help and genuinely care about what a customer is dealing with. Listening is how you comprehend a customer’s problem and you communicate that you understand it.

4. Discover Motivation

A customer has a problem. Hey, we all have those. But why is that problem important enough to deal with right now? Is it because they’re hungry, tired, and ready for a change, or because they just forget to deal with their problem until right now? That’s up for you to find out. Sometimes, that answer isn’t so cut and dry. Maybe it’s a few different motivators all rolled up into one. It could be a positive motivator or even a negative one. Context is key here! Once you understand where the customer is coming from, you’ll work with them to help them get where they need to go.

Listen and Learn with Sauce Marketing

When you listen, you learn. When you learn, you grow. #GrowSmarter with Sauce Marketing. We’ll work with you to build a strong, listening-focused customer acquisition strategy. It’s why we’re a HubSpot Gold Certified Agency Partner and Certified StoryBrand Agency. We have the credentials that back up what we know so that you have more customers that feel engaged and ready to buy.

Click here to schedule a free call with one of our Growth Guides.


Topics:StrategyCultureCustomer Experience