The Fastest Way To Lose A Customer
Are you actively listening to what your customers are telling you? Not listening to your customers can be a costly mistake.
In 2013, Target expanded into the Canadian market and did not listen to their customers. Increasing their prices in Canada, Target did not take into consideration that 70% of Target shoppers in Canada also shopped at Target in the US. When comparing the experience of shopping in the US with shopping in Canada, customers were underwhelmed. As Target's CEO Brian Cornell stated:
"We delivered an experience that didn't meet our guests’ expectations." Subsequently Target closed its Canadian stores, at the hefty cost of $2.5 billion in losses.
Sure, you may think, "my sales force is killing it, talking to customers every day. We do everything we can to make them happy."
If so, that's great for you. But your sales team is only a part of a greater conversation that is happening between your company and your customer. Your product is also part of that conversation which provides you a unique opportunity to listen.
It's great to see salespeople listening to customers' "pain points." But equally disheartening to watch the product sit in the corner ignoring everything valuable conversations from your customer.
The fact is that every part of your business is a form of communication between you and your customer. Any good salesperson will tell you that listening to the customer’s challenges is the best way to become an advocate for their position and suggest their product as a solution. The same applies when it comes to using your product to listen to customer's expressed and unexpressed needs.
Let's use Sally Shopper as an example. A good listening process is ongoing. It begins long before the first sales call and continues long after the first purchase. Sally is always deciding if your product, website or people, are listening to her and the right solution for her needs.
Sally has a world of competitive options at her fingertips. The harsh reality of the modern technological world is that if she feels like she is not being heard and only just sold to, she'll probably just move onto the next link in Google.
When you ignore Sally, she calls your company, “stupid.” She stresses out each time she has to use your product and lets everyone around her know exactly how irritated she feels about you.
Why Sally Matters
Why should you care about what Sally feels? A 2016 Harris Poll found that 82% of Americans said they look for recommendations from friends and family when considering whether or not to buy. In other words, what Sally feels will absolutely help you increase sales.
When Sally feels like she’s listened to, she falls in love with your product. She becomes a loyal customer, and she shares her experience with others.
Remember, a slow sales cycle may not be the fault of your salesforce. Word-of-mouth referrals should be an essential marketing strategy and sales strategy.
The 3 Dirty U-Words: Usability, UI, and UX
Usability, as the name suggests, refers to how usable your product is. To simplify the discussion ask if your product is easy to hard to use.
Two key factors in improving usability are User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX). A user interface could be a door knob or thermostat gauge in the physical world or navigation and calls-to-actions. Either way, the focus is on how a "user" performs an action. E.g., turning a knob or clicking a button.
User Experience refers to how the customer feels about taking actions. UX is a deep study of human behavioral psychology. Dr. BJ Fogg, the founder of Stanford's Persuasive Technology Lab, has done a lot of research on what triggers people to take action.
If there's one thing you want a customer to do when they reach your site, it's taking action. So UX should be a primary focus of every product development process.
If you've never considered the impact of UX and UI on your customer's experience, don't worry. You’re not alone. According to a 2017 User Testing report only of companies have a dedicated UX research team.
Simply put, good UXs and UIs are all about removing obstacles that interfere with your customer's opportunity to have a good relationship with your product or service.
It doesn’t matter if you run a dry cleaning business, a hotel, an online product or service, you should be planning, doing and testing for the 3Us regularly. Many think the 3Us are something that you do. But doing is only part of a larger story.
You can improve your usability, UI, and UX by conducting active listening tests and responding to your customer's needs with improvements. A good model would work like this.
- Gathering information about your customers through testing.
- Analyze the information and convert your findings into value.
- Modify your product and return that value to the customer.
ABT - Always Be Testing
A conversation is a two-way dialogue between two or more participants. Good communication means listening (a.k.a., testing) to what is being said and following up by adding value to the conversation. But how do you listen to your customer with testing?
Here is an easy to use guide to improving your product conversation.
How To Listen To what Sally IS Saying
Don’t guess. Ask. If you don’t listen to your customers, how can you know the best way to help them?
Qualitative research is just fancy-schmancy, industry jargon for asking a question, listening to the answer, and figuring out what the answer means.
The key to getting quality answers asking the best questions.
If you ask your child, “How was your day?” Chances are you’ll get a reply like, “Good.”
Asking, “What are the best and worst things that happened to you today?” will get you higher quality, more actionable answers.
This direct question and answer process is called qualitative research is the most common way to tune in and actively listen to what Sally is saying.
Examples Of Qualitative Research:
- Conduct interviews with existing or potential customers (one-on-one: in-person, or over the phone)
- Create online surveys: 5-15 minutes covering a range of questions. (Survey Monkey)
- Collecting a list of challenges expressed by customers to your sales team
- Add a page poll: Typically one multiple choice, optional, question that pops up at the bottom of a page.
E.g., “On a scale of 1-10, how useful was the information on this page?” (Hotjar)
Conducting qualitative research is easy, and you'll always find the results surprising. It's also a great way to get to know your customer and improve your personas.
Listening is one of the best ways to understand what Sally Shopper wants, but it's not the only way. Read "How to Improve Customer Conversations Using Your Product [Part 2]." We will explore ways to hear and make improvements based on what Sally Shopper is NOT saying.