Can Customer Feedback Drive Revenue?

Yes, but not without altering your approach.

Are you prepared to listen to and act on what your customers tell you?
For many the answer is a resounding no.

When conducting customer surveys and soliciting online reviews, it seems obvious to ask questions you want answers to. Unfortunately, if that is all you do, you’ll miss out on the most telling feedback and the new business opportunities that result from a more collaborative approach.

The Gift Of Collaboration

What if, instead of asking simple easy-to-answer questions, you invited people to share their thoughts? What insights and opportunities might emerge from those conversations?

What might you learn if you actively listen to what customers share with you? What if you uncovered their needs, why those needs are important, and what customers actually want from you and would be willing to pay a premium for?

In some circles, this collaborative problem-solving behaviour is called Solution Sales. It starts with active listening allowing you to learn what is important. You actively listen to understand, uncover needs, and assess intent. These conversations reveal challenges, which are also new opportunities.

Fulfilling these uncovered needs leads to sales, trust, appreciation, repeat business, long-term loyalty, referrals and testimonials. Woah, who knew active listening could be so powerful and beneficial?

Why Are We Such Poor Listeners?

Without getting philosophical, the answer boils down to “it’s difficult.”

Active listening requires that we shift our attention from our agenda (what we want to learn) to understanding customer needs. It takes awareness, new skills, modern survey technologies, and practice.

It’s much easier to simply focus on what we want. But if we do, we risk losing customers. As we all know, it costs far more to replace customers than it does to keep existing ones.

What Do We Mean By Active Listening?

Active Listening was coined in 1957 by Carl Rogers and Richard Farson. It was popularized in the early 1960s by Thomas Gordon in his best-selling books P.E.T. and L.E.T.

In simple terms, active listening begins with being open to hearing what people are attempting to communicate. This approach stands in sharp contrast to waiting for an opportunity to tell people what we want them to know, or asking people to respond to questions we want answers to.

The active component involves probing into what is said, to confirm understanding, ask for clarification and then validate your understanding.

Active listening is important because precious few of us communicate effectively on our first attempt. It often takes a skilled interviewer to help us express what we mean to say or are uncertain how to explain.

Active listeners seek to decode the underlying message and why it’s important. They seek to understand so customers feel heard and valued.

When customers disclose what they really want and need, it’s a gift. They are telling you what you need to do to earn their business over the long term. The information gained and the goodwill earned position you to capitalize on the business relationship.

Do You Still Get To Ask Your Questions?

Yes, of course you do. You still get to ask the questions that matter to you; you just don’t stop by recording terse, easy-to-score answers and preparing summary reports for your team to ignore.

What’s The Real Opportunity?

Historically, customer research was initiated to assess customer satisfaction and to gauge performance on metrics such as star ratings and net promoter scores.

Customer feedback has greatly expanded in recent years to support transaction-driven online reviews, continuous improvement efforts and customer experience design initiatives. But even these progressive efforts tend to be department-driven, internally focused and disconnected from sales and service operations.

The real opportunity is to transform customer research and feedback gathering into a reliable means to generate new business. The goal is to turn a cost center into a profit center. When that happens, customer feedback gets the funds it needs to become a core business driver.

Where Do You Start?

Turning customer feedback into a profit centre starts like everything else, with the intention to make it so.

Ask your team about your current process, the technologies you employ and the state of your customer data. You might be surprised to learn that you’re closer to this possibility than you realize. Current technologies are sophisticated and capable of far more than they are used for.

The Good News

Many current (small business) technologies (POSs, CRMs and online survey tools) are capable of this approach now. What we’re talking about amounts to employing the capabilities already built into the software you use. It can be more about advancing your practice than swapping tools.

The Less Good News

If your business is transactional, your customer data is a mess and you’ve not yet invested in customer-centric systems, there’ll be some heavier lifting required to get you headed down this path.

Interested in Learning More?

If you’re intrigued with this conversation, we invite you to download our 24-page eBook. The Book is called “Who’s controlling your narrative – you or your online reviewers? It offers a detailed look into what’s involved in advancing your customer feedback and reputation management practices.

If you’d prefer to speak with one of our experts, we offer a free consultation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and discuss how to move forward.

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One Comment

  1. john March 29, 2024 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    So the essence of what you’re saying is, do you really want to know what people think and want from your business? If you do, you need to ask better questions and be prepared to act quickly on what you learn. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to frustrate your clients due to your slow or lacklustre response. By giving people the opportunity to be heard and helped, you’re earning their trust, generating goodwill and positioning yourself for additional sales or referrals. Is that the gist of your message?

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