Do You Have Conversations with Your Customers?
One of my friends was presenting on the “Art of Storytelling” at an SME association meeting.
He interacted with the audience members at the end of the talk.
One of them narrated this story.
They were in the business of providing Business Intelligence (BI) services to their customers. As soon as they began, they got three customers immediately, and one of them is still associated with them for more than three years.
On and off, they were gaining new customers and losing some existing ones. Their positioning spoke about their BI skills and the team’s experience using the BI tools.
They weren’t very sure of their positioning and decided to relook at it.
What was the best way to relook at your positioning?
They decided to have a conversation with that one customer who had been with them for more than three years.
They asked him the toughest question, “Why are you still working with us?”
To which they received this as a response, “Whatever I throw at you related to BI, you guys are able to deliver. Hence, I continue to work with you.”
Bingo. They understood their positioning. From then on, they started using this as their positioning statement and started adding customers faster.
How often do we ask these tough questions of our customers, or for that matter, have that conversation?
Importance of Customer Conversations
You need them to understand what your customers feel about your business and how you are doing.
Often, people would say that we constantly seek feedback from our customers, and we get loads of insights from the feedback. We are not very sure about having one-to-one conversations with them.
While most customer feedback you collect is quantitative and data-driven, you miss the qualitative stuff.
What Do We Collect as Feedback?
We measure customer satisfaction (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), customer health score (CHS), and first call resolution (FCR).
While all of these are relevant, they are quantitative metrics that don’t tell how customers feel about you.
Most of these metrics are scaled. Just imagine asking your customers who provide feedback the following question.
Why Did You Choose That Response?
The insight you gain would be invaluable in providing excellent customer experiences.
Tips for Having Impactful Customer Conversations
- Listen attentively: Pay close attention to the customer’s spoken words, tone, and body language. Acknowledge and affirm their emotions and concerns.
- Empathize: Adopt the customer’s perspective and comprehend their viewpoint. Display understanding and compassion towards their circumstance.
- Use clear and succinct language: Opt for plain language and try to avoid using technical terms. Get straight to the point and avoid long-winded explanations.
- Stay calm: Even during challenging moments, keep a composed and professional attitude. This will help to ease any tension and create a more positive and productive dialogue.
- Provide help: Whenever you can offer assistance to resolve the customer’s issue. This can be through offering suggestions, a product or service, or just a supportive ear to listen
- Follow up: After speaking with them, reach out to the customer to make sure their matter has been taken care of in a manner that meets their approval.
- Keep in touch and continuously grow: After each encounter with a customer, take a moment to think about the positive aspects and areas for improvement. Use this reflection to continuously enhance your customer conversations.
- Personalization: Customize your approach for each customer to show that you value their unique situation and perspectives
- Patience: Handle customer inquiries and concerns with patience, even in difficult or tense situations. This can help to defuse the situation and find a resolution more effectively.
Why One-On-One Conversations?
One-on-one conversations will positively influence your product development, sales, and positioning of your offerings. It can set the direction of your organization.
I believe in this saying, “Every customer has a vested interest in making you successful.”
Why wouldn’t they be?
After all, they have paid to use your product or service and would ideally want to succeed by using your offering. This means you grow as an organization as well.
When you have one-to-one conversations, seek feedback, and act on them, they feel valued, appreciated, and invested in cocreating your offerings with you.
How do you choose your customers to have this one-on-one conversation?
When you have only a few customers, it would be easy to schedule and have these one-on-one conversations.
When the customer numbers grow, that is when these conversations take a backseat, and you tend to rely on data for all your insights and actions.
I’d suggest that you appoint an executive sponsor to every account that brings in a decent amount of revenue. Get the executive sponsor to speak to them at least once a quarter for 20 to 30 minutes.
These conversations would help set the direction of your product or service journey. This would fundamentally influence how you run your different functions and the business.