Are Businesses Really Listening to Their Customers?

Lauren Krause
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Successful executives understand that the three basic things customers want from them is to listen, adapt and deliver. They actively listen to customers and incorporate their feedback into the decisions they make going forward. Keeping a focus and commitment to the customer is the best way for any company to achieve its goals.

A 2015 report from the Institute of Customer Service revealed that only 36 percent of those surveyed believe that senior executives are actively listening to customers and putting that information to use to improve overall customer service. Less than half believe that their company management actually understands their customers' needs. In an era when social media is mainstream and consumers are very vocal about their brand loyalty or their lack of it, not listening to customers is a strategy that is doomed to fail.

There's no getting around the fact that businesses only exist because consumers need the products or services they sell. Steve Jobs understood the concept and mastered it, and then he built one of today's leading technology companies based on the needs and wants of consumers. He spent time listening to customers' input about what they wanted to see today, and he had the uncanny ability to predict what they would need in the future. Investing the time and effort to develop good customer service and then backing it up with innovation based on consumer feedback is what drove Apple to become the technology giant that it is today.

Listening to customers can take many forms. While senior management may not always be in a position to get out on the streets and talk to customers, they can actively engage with their front-line salespeople and invest time and money into comprehensive consumer research and social media strategies that will give them the information they need:

• Why do our customers buy from us?

• What do we do that our customers don't like?

• What one thing can we do better?

When you talk to your consumers, you’re actually receiving some of the most cost-effective, sound business advice you can get, as it comes right from the source. There is a key to turning this information into success and profits: act on it quickly, and keep the conversations going. Make sure that every department in your company has the same customer focus, and develop a good customer service solution to ensure consumers always have a good experience. This leads to loyal customers, which eventually leads to increased profits.

Savvy executives understand that their company’s success begins and ends with the consumer. They invest time and money into listening to customers through a variety of strategies, and then they act on the information they get back. When customer service is part of a company’s foundation, it is on the right track to become successful and profitable.

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