Are You Really Listening to Your Customers?

Lauren Krause
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Listening to customers is a key part of customer service, but too many businesses still aren't getting this simple part of the process right. Your organization can improve the customer service it provides by increasing the number of opportunities that customers have to communicate with you as well as training your representatives to better listen to customer concerns.

Many businesses expend large amounts of resources on marketing to bring in new customers. If you do not follow up this effort with excellent customer service, you could be wasting money and missing out on the opportunity to build a strong repeat customer base. In order to grow your business, you need to talk to customers, give them opportunities to tell you what they think and, most importantly, listen to what they have to say.

If your business includes brick-and-mortar sites, you can talk to customers when they come into your store or office. All businesses can listen to customers when they call, and an increasing number are also encouraging their customers to get in touch via social media.

Creating opportunities for employees to listen to customers is not enough, however. You also need to provide training for customer service representatives to make sure they are listening effectively to customer questions and complaints. Listening skills are some of the most important skills for customer service representatives to have. Too many businesses try to offer out-of-the-box solutions to customer problems without listening deeply enough to really understand each individual's issue.

Listening to customers can have benefits that extend far beyond providing better customer service. Customers often have valuable insights into business processes, and their suggestions could help to increase efficiency or improve the quality of service that your organization is able to provide. You can benefit from customer insights by training your customer service employees to look out for and recognize customer ideas, which might not always be clearly presented as suggestions but rather as questions or complaints.

Customer service employees who look after the organization's social media accounts need specialist training to help them listen to customers who get in touch via these channels. You need to teach staff to look out for key words in customer communications, which could indicate problems with particular parts of your customer experience. For example, if you receive a lot of communications complaining about downtime on your company website, this could be a sign that you need to change your hosting provider or package. While this example might seem obvious, it is an example of the kind of basic issue that can be missed when you fail to listen to customers.

In the age of big data, many businesses are investing millions in developing systems to collect and analyze customer data. However, training customer service representatives to simply listen to what customers have to say can be a more cost-effective way to improve your organization's performance. In this data-driven age, it's important not to forget the importance of listening skills.


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