Are you really listening to your customers?

If you work in a customer facing role then I can guarantee that part of your remit will be to provide outstanding customer service, whether you realise it or not. The challenge with this comes when the customer isn’t sure what service they need.

Have you ever been in that situation where you think you’ve done everything you can and the customer is satisfied, only for them to speak or behave in a way that implies the complete opposite? Frustrating, isn’t it? I’ve definitely been there and I’ve come up with a few ideas to help you avoid meeting that situation again in future.

Step 1: Spot the underlying dissatisfaction

When you collect feedback from customers, it’s very easy to take a throwaway comment and run with it. Here are some examples: “It’s great”, “I think it’s very useful” or even “I can definitely see the value in it”.

The natural reaction to this is to assume that the customer is happy and you can count on them as an advocate of your product. In my experience, that’s not always true. Try questioning them further to understand why they think your product is great/useful/valuable. Only at this stage will you uncover their true sentiment. If they can reel off examples of how the product has helped them, then it’s likely they really are happy. What I often find is that actually there are “buts” involved or they confess to not really using it, thus giving you the opportunity to unbundle any objections they have and set right any misconceptions.

Step 2: Drill into objections

A common mistake that both B2B and B2C customer-facing professionals make is ignoring a customer’s real objection. Often people think that the more quickly they can remove the objection, the better so they minimise it and sweep it under the carpet. The trouble with that is that at some point, the carpet will be lifted and the objections will all float up again.

I practice what I call “active listening”; this is where I consciously listen to every word in order that I offer the most useful response. Often, this is asking for further insight to the problem. Knowledge is power here; you can’t help with something you don’t know about and it may be that your customer is also unsure what you can do to help. It’s your job to find out.

Step 3: Go the distance

Ever heard people talk about “going the extra mile”? People use it in reference to working so hard that you find the best possible resolution for the customer. To me, that’s not doing anything extra, that’s just doing the job you set out to do, which is helping your customer.

It may be that it takes three emails instead of four, or two phone calls or even six versions of that document you promised but if that’s what it takes, then that’s what you should do. If you promise to deliver a product or service to a certain specification at a certain time, you’ve set the bar yourself so it’s now up to you to reach that bar and deliver.

Want to learn more about how to engage your customers through social selling? Check out ‘The Seven Habits of Social Sellers’ and learn how to accelerate your sales success.