Archives for posts with tag: listen

As you know, customers are the most valuable asset to your business, so it is important to invest in keeping them happy. Did you know that each unhappy customer will tell an average of ten potential customers about their dissatisfaction? That’s a staggering thought. There’s a lot more at stake than you may realize when a customer becomes upset. You have to consider the potential loss of their future business in addition to the cost of potential new customers. On average, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain satisfied customers. Now, that’s not to say we don’t need new customers. But what if we balance the satisfaction of our current customers in addition to acquiring new ones?

Next time you are faced with an opportunity, here are 6 steps that will help demonstrate your commitment to the customer:

1 – Listen. Especially in Customer Support, it’s in our nature to want to solve the problem right away. But by listening first, you might hear something differently than you first assumed. Be an active listener. Take notes and summarize what you heard to ensure you completely understand the matter at hand.

2 – Remain calm. Emotions can run high, especially in the heat of the moment. Remind yourself that you are here to help, and remove your emotions from the situation.

3 – Don’t take it personally. When an individual is frustrated, it may feel like it is being directed at you.  Remind yourself that it he or she is frustrated with the situation and not you personally.

4 – Provide regular updates. Nothing is worse than the waiting game. Even if you don’t have all of the answers, keep the customer updated on the steps you’re taking to resolve the issue so they will understand it is important to you and to the company.

5 – Pick up the phone.  In today’s email and social networking world, a message can be interpreted many different ways. To avoid miscommunication, pick up the phone and have a conversation.

6 – Find a solution and follow-up. Most importantly, provide a resolution and follow up with the customer to close the loop and ensure they feel the situation has been resolved.

HON’s Customer Support members live by these steps. We understand the opportunity to not only help our customers, but to also demonstrate our loyalty and commitment to them.  What additional best practices do you follow?

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Communication is important in any environment, and is especially important in the workplace.  Miscommunication can result in low employee morale and motivation, decreased productivity, and increased employee conflicts.  As simple as communication may seem, it is not always easy to communicate at work. It is important to choose your words wisely, listen intently, and verify that you are understood.

Here are a few simple tips you can use to be a more effective communicator:

1. Don’t just hear—Listen.  This includes paying attention to body language if you are speaking to someone in person.  When a coworker approaches your desk, make sure you fully focus your attention on him or her.  If you do not have the time to do so, offer to schedule time to meet with the person later.

2. Be comfortable with resolving conflict.  No matter how well employees get along, there is always a chance that people will disagree. If you are a manager or leader in your office, help create an environment that allows your employees or teammates to discuss potential issues, and find a way to resolve them. Be sure that any conflict resolution focuses on the problem and not the personalities involved.

3. Be open to constructive criticism or feedback and be prepared to give it in return. Be appreciative of feedback that you receive, and make necessary changes to drive improved performance.

4. Use language that is easily understood to avoid confusion and misinterpretation.  Make sure you are aware of any cultural communication differences.

5. Follow correct grammatical guidelines and use spell check.  This is key, especially if you are communicating with customers or people outside of your business.

6. If you are conversing over email and have questions, speak to the customer or fellow employee in person or give them a call.  Although emails are a quick and easy way to communicate, they can also be misunderstood at times. Never be afraid to verify!

7. Always be aware of your audience and setting.  Make sure you consider what is appropriate to discuss in a workplace environment, with your coworkers outside of work, or on social media.

Remember, effective communication is key to the continued success of any company. Set clear guidelines around workplace communication, and ensure all of your employees or teammates understand them. This will only improve the overall effectiveness of the company or department.

VOC Quote

Woodrow Wilson had it right – you don’t become a leader in your industry without first listening to your customers. The connections our customers make with our brand, their attitudes towards our products, and the many ways they interact with us are all what we at HON call the “Voice of the Customer”. It is ultimately what they want, not what we want, that drives our product development processes and business practices. But, what exactly is the voice of the customer? Let’s look at the basics.

Who?

Listening is only valuable if you are listening to the right information from the right people. Know who your target audiences are and focus your attention on them. Also, remember that customer feedback doesn’t always come straight from your customers. Spend some time chatting with your sales team after a big pitch, talk to your social media manager or listen in on a call with a member of your customer support team. Take advantage of the information you can easily find from internal employees who spend most of their time interacting closely with your stakeholders. These people often have the most unique insight into how and why people make purchasing decisions which can help you improve your products and translate into more sales for your company.

What?

Although it sounds counterintuitive, listening in the business world isn’t always done with your ears. It comes in many different forms. You can ask customers for information directly, through techniques such as surveys or focus groups; or, you can ask them indirectly by monitoring their interactions on social media, tracking patterns in their purchasing behavior or checking in with members of your internal team as mentioned above. Conducting a big study to listen to your customers can be expensive, but even if your budget doesn’t allow a line item for Voice of the Customer research there are several free online tools to help get you started. The conversations your customers are having online matter, especially when 94% of buyers research their products of interest online before they make a purchase and the average customer checks over 10 different sources for information and reviews before they buy.  Setting up automatic Google Alerts for your company, using sites like Addict-o-matic to understand how people search for you, and listening to your social media communities through services such as Hootsuite or Social Mention are just a few of the easy ways you can observe the attitudes people hold towards your brand and really hear what they have to say. (And they are free!)

Where?

The best way to listen to your customers is to find them where they already are.  If your target audience is Millennials, it’s probably more worthwhile to reach out to them on social media platforms rather than through an ad in a local print newspaper. If you receive an email from a customer, respond with an email. If they call you on the phone, call them back. It gets too complicated to try to transition your conversations from one medium to the next, and adding additional steps for your customers to take in order to communicate with you only makes it less likely that they will.

When?

This is a trick question, because the act of listening never really begins or ends. As long as you are in business with your customers, consider your relationship with them an ongoing conversation. Listen and respond appropriately, letting your product enhancements, sustainability efforts and community outreach projects do your talking for you. Just like with any conversation, once you listen you must respond. Whether you do so through words or actions, make sure you are adding value to your customers’ brand experience and always make yourselves available for continuous two-way communication.

Why?

The bottom line is that listening to your customers is crucial to your success, so recognizing its significance is the first step towards becoming a business that listens well. Accept that “leader” is synonymous with “listener”. Your customers are already talking, so you might as well pay attention! When you understand what really matters to your key audiences, your products and services are not all that will improve; you’ll be able to anticipate questions and potential problems before they happen, and get a head start on providing the right solution. The more proactively you can give your customers what they truly want, the more positively your brand will be perceived.

What are some tools or techniques you use to really listen to your customers?

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