Does Listening to Customers Actually Increase Revenue?

27 Apr 2017
Louis Corso
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The answer is, very simply, “No.” As my colleague put it: “You can listen, but then you (the brand) have to act.”

VoC (voice of the customer) platforms and Customer Experience Management companies are all over. One thing is sure: They are all saying the same thing. Better listen up, brands, or your customers will surely go elsewhere, quickly and without warning.

(For those of you expecting graphs and bullet points: You will not find them here.)

The keys: Interaction. Response.

There are plenty of ways to interact with brands, especially online. There are popup surveys that hit you when you least expect it and there are feedback buttons that take you down a rabbit hole. If you are lucky, after filling one out, you get a generic thank you note. After that, dead air. No knowledge of what has happened to your request, query, recommendation, complaint, suggestion, or survey response.

That is the problem. Someone forgot when building the platform that there is a person filling it out who has little time, is inspired to try to connect, and wants to be treated as a person.

Every time I talk about our business, people ask the same question. What is the incentive to leave the feedback and what is the incentive to stay or come back?

What a great question. I use social media to post pictures of my family and my vacation and only want others to appreciate them. In the world of social media, the currency is psychic income: Hey look, 75 likes! In many cases, psychic income may be enough for people to talk to brands, too—particularly when the community involves both employees of the brand and fellow fans of the brand. I post a comment about features I love in my new car or a suggestion for services I would use at my fitness center: Hey look, 75 people agree!

Some brands may have to get creative to build this kind of community. We give brands ideas and specific recommendations for this, but they are the masters of their own destiny. In reality, their responses are only limited by their imaginations.

Which issues do you choose?

So how do you take a cold experience and inject a little humanity into it to give someone the feeling that not only have they been heard but also that something is going to be done? That is hard—because as much as you, the brand, would like to deal with every situation, it is impossible to solve every problem and develop every suggestion.

You have to figure out which issues are the ones that need to be resolved now and which ones can wait.

The easiest way to do this is by determining which issues affect the greatest number of people and are causing the most negative chatter. (We are talking more about the B2C world here—in B2B sometimes a few customers can make or break your business.) After that, you can determine whether it is aesthetics, or functionality, or something else that is affecting the quality of the product or service.

Every customer does really matter.

Here is where the customer experience management comes into foreground. Years ago, I had a salon, and in the back of the house, on a small piece of paper on a board, there were two sentences to remind stylists: “You are our hearts and our hands. The customer experience begins the moment they walk in the door until the moment they leave.”

In reality, it lasts a lot longer. It included every time they looked down at their nails, or in the mirror at their hair, and each time someone looked at them and mentioned how nice they looked. Each one of those moments reflected on us—and if they were not satisfied each and every time, they would not be back again.

Take your time and put out your best product (given also that competition is on your heels prodding you to work fast). Then remember that there are many moments AFTER the point of sale at which the customer reflects on you and your brand. Let them easily share with you what happens during those moments: both what they love and what they would change.

Being able to rely on your customers as a source of good information is critical. They are, after all, the sole source of revenue for your brand.

Keep it simple.

As I started out in this business not long ago, a mentor of mine told me, “Keep it simple. Just make it easy for people to use.” The overly complex, the long and drawn-out, are better for physics professors and hedge fund managers—and even there, simplicity can do wonders.

If something as complex as physics can made brilliantly elegant (e=mc2) then so, too, can customer interaction online. The beauty of today’s world is that much of what we do can be distilled into a form that fits neatly into the palm of a hand.

Just make sure that at the end of the day it fits neatly, looks good, and is easy to use.

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