Salesforce

Listening – Key to Understanding Your Customer

Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves. - Steve Jobs

By: Anees Haidary, Head, Quality and Project Management Academy, Sasken Technologies Ltd.

There are various factors contributing to business success or failure. Customer satisfaction is a key factor for businesses to exist. It is important to track and continuously improve Customer satisfaction in order to win customers delight and turn them into promoters of your brand. If you ignore customer’s satisfaction, they might stop caring about your products, and brand as well in the longer run. The sooner you realize the importance of this factor, the better your organization’s performance be.

 The most powerful mechanism to know this is to understand your customer. The key to this understanding involves constant communication with your customer. Of this, listening is the key skill required to be practised. While Listening is so important, let us understand how this could be effectively used for our advantage in a business context.

 The 7 commandments of listening:

 

  • Commandment 1: Stay quiet.

Try to run and walk at the same time. You can’t. Therefore, Talking and Listening at the same time is not possible. Do not interrupt. Do not judge. Stay quiet and listen actively.

 

  • Commandment 2: Repeat what you heard.

Repeat the summary of what was spoken. Clarify and acknowledge. Be in the moment. Understand what the customer is saying and what she or he is feeling by asking probing questions.

 

  • Commandment 3: Listen to understand.

Just as you can’t run and walk at the same time, you can’t plan your response while listening. The biggest communication problem is that we don’t listen to understand, rather listen to reply. Avoid it completely.

 

  • Commandment 4: Use Gestures, such as nodding your head often.

Maintain good Eye contact. Even responding with a “yes” and “hmm” is useful. Take notes. It helps signal your interest in the discussion.

 

  • Commandment 5: Maintain Focus.

Concentrate on what the customer is speaking about. Do not get distracted by anxious thoughts coming to your mind. It takes time and is a laborious process. Don’t be impatient to respond to the customer as she or he completes a sentence. Pause.

 

  • Commandment 6: Observe body language of the customer.

Nonverbal cues such as voice tone, pitch, postures, hand gestures and facial expressions, and how they react to your responses are helpful to understand customer intent. You could attempt to copy his or her posture and gestures, if required.

 

  • Commandment 7: Practice listening more often. Sharpen the saw.

Grab opportunities to practice listening every day with your colleagues at office, friends and family. There’s a high possibility for you to improve and deepen these relationships.

 High chance of Success is caused by Listening. The customer journey is an experience. The data is too hazy. It doesn’t really allow us to experience customer feelings. If you can’t meet face to face with your customers, a simple and often ignored method to understanding them is to make phone calls and ask questions using 7 commandments approach.

 Listening to your customers might not only enhance your customer satisfaction and hence retention but also increase their interest in pursuing business with you. They might become your best brand ambassadors and best referral sources. Listening works wonders. It builds success.

 In Jeffrey Gitomer’s words “Listen more than you talk. You will never listen yourself out of a customer.”

 

 

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