Listening to Customers Across the Company
Building and protecting the brand is not the marketing department’s job alone. Employees in many departments have the opportunity and obligation to listen and respond to customers’ needs in a way that strengthens the company’s perceived value.
It Starts with Marketing
The marketing department is the one primarily in charge of with brand management. Marketers are uniquely positioned to take customer feedback into account when developing advertising and other communication materials.
Two areas where this can be particularly valuable are in developing personas and in encouraging word of mouth marketing.
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer. While market research can provide some valuable data to aid in the creation process, working with the feedback of real customers will provide a more accurate representation of who your company is targeting.
Additionally, turning your customers into brand advocates is both cost-effective and extremely valuable. If your company provides a quality product or service, your customers are likely to give good reviews when asked. When customers feel listened to and valued, they can turn into brand advocates.
Sales Teams Succeed When They Listen
While marketing teams have brand management front and center, other departments can find more success in their work areas when they listen to customers.
For instance, for most account-based salespeople, the initial sale is simply a way to get a foot in the door. Much of the company’s profits -- and the salesperson’s commissions -- come from repeat sales or up sales.
Thus, when sales teams are primed to listen to their customers, they will find more success. Often, a customer comment can lead to an opportunity to make a recommendation for another product the company sells.
Listening can also prevent customers from leaving. As every salesperson knows, it’s far easier to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one. But, if a salesperson is not addressing ongoing customer concerns, even the most loyal clients can start to look elsewhere.
Therefore, it is essential that sales teams develop listening skills both to identify new opportunities and to prevent leakage.
Product Design Improves with Customer Input
Have you ever been in a situation where it’s clear that a company has put thought into the user experience, but fail because they imagine the situation from an internal, rather than customer, point of view?
Product designers can alleviate this by getting feedback from actual customers. Knowing how they experience your product and listening to their frustrations can provide needed insight.
For instance, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is famous for his customer-centric approach to business. When he found out customers were frustrated because the cardboard boxes Amazon shipped its products in were difficult to open, he instructed his company to find ways to create boxes which were easier to open. More recently, Bezos took customers’ concerns that increased online shopping created too strong an environmental footprint and offered them a “one day a week” shipping option.
Customers can give you the best ideas about how to design your products. When a product design team implements customer feedback, they can do their jobs better. This starts with developing a culture of listening.
Human Resources Recruitment Easier When Customers are Happy
Even non-customer facing departments can succeed when they listen to their customers. Take the human resources department. It is far easier to recruit good candidates when customers are happy with your company.
Further, when human resources personnel understand what their company’s customers need, they can match candidates to jobs more effectively.
However, this requires the human resources team to reorient their thinking from serving internal constituencies to listening to actual customer needs.
How Do You Listen Across the Company?
Developing a company-wide culture of listening starts by talking one-on-one with your customers. But it cannot end there. Your customers are talking about your brand even when you’re not in the room.
Therefore, it is imperative you know what they’re saying when you’re not around. Today’s customers are discussing your products and services online.
Collecting and interpreting this data can become overwhelming. But, where technology creates challenges, it also helps solve them. For instance, using big data and NLP-based solutions like Affogata allows you to identify narratives, anomalies and trends, understand how customers feel about your products and services, and deduce the impact of narratives and users on the public discourse.
Listening to your customers is about having conversations. But it’s also about understanding what they are saying when you’re not in the room. When every person in your company,