4 Ways To Listen

by Jeannie Walters

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Most people I talk to agree that listening (and hearing) your customers is critical. If you’re not listening, you’re missing valuable feedback, suggestions and signs of trouble.

But how should you do it? I’ve offered some ideas about questions to ask, what to do with feedback and more. Most executives and business owners say the same thing, however:

“I don’t have the time.”

I get it. Time is precious and none of us seem to have enough of it. How about a few “set it and forget it” ideas? Ok, you can’t really forget, but you can consider it a start.

1. Set the right alerts.

Use Google alerts and Yahoo to find out what’s top of mind for your customers. If you are a B2B organization, set up alerts for your customers, their clients, and key employees. Competitors are another good category to track.

If you serve consumers, then track what’s important to them, not just your product name.

2. Search where your customers are.

Google Blog Search is a great resource for finding out where and how your customers are discussing topics important to them. So many blogs out there, and yet very rarely do brands or business owners actually participate in the conversations happening. Many times we turn to peers online for advice or ideas about specific products. Make sure you are paying attention!

3. Use Twitter as a direct line.

Setting up key search terms on Twitter can really help you hear what your customers are discussing. But here’s the secret: Don’t just search for your brand names. Search for WHY customers would use a product like yours.

4. Respond to complaints and suggestions from your customers with “Tell me more.”

When customers take the time to tell you directly, it’s important to listen up. Asking for more information will get to the root of the problem – not just what broke the proverbial straw on that camel’s back. “Tell me more” invites dialogue and thought.

See? It’s not that hard. But it’s not easy, either. It does take time, but if you commit to your end of the conversation, you’ll get more than enough from the other side.

Photo Credit: Melvin Gaal via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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