If you aren’t listening to what your clients and prospects are saying, you are missing a great opportunity to help win more business, uncover new revenue sources, validate your understanding of a market, or just plain stay plugged into an account.
There is tremendous value in the types of intelligence you can uncover by listening to the voice of your customer. Here are just a few examples.
What Can You Learn from Your Customers?
1. Improve Your Clients’ Satisfaction and Maintain Trust. At ML, we often talk about the importance of building trust in the selling process, but you must also maintain it. Communication can play a big part. By regularly speaking with clients, you can identify areas that require attention (like potentially saving an “at-risk” account), revive dormant accounts and even uncover new revenue opportunities. Many of our clients conduct interviews to determine Net Promoter Scores that, when measured regularly over time, can surface trends that may indicate action is required or signal new opportunities exist.
2. Gain Competitive Intelligence. It’s likely that your competitors have been calling into your existing clients or pursuing the same prospects. Why not ask about their perception of those competitors? Asking the right questions can uncover a wealth of knowledge to help protect your accounts, win more business, gain competitive advantage, and stay ahead of the competition.
3. Impact Your Product or Services Roadmap. Change is constant. Advancements in technology and new threats are emerging at lightning speed. These can create new opportunities for you, but it can be difficult to keep up with them and determine where best to focus. Your clients are a great source of validation of what is needed both to improve existing offerings and when to consider creating new ones. Ask questions to validate where you are strong and identify weaknesses that need to be addressed. Understand which of your offerings are creating the most value and which may be ready for retirement.
4. Expand Your Horizons. Are you thinking about moving into a new geography or new vertical or perhaps launching a new offering? Speaking with potential buyers and existing clients will help you capture intel that can influence your decision to proceed and the best go-to-market strategy if you do. Carefully crafted questions can also uncover insights to help you forecast the potential opportunity and ramp up required resources.
5. Influence Sales and Marketing. How you take your product and services to market should constantly evolve to reflect changes in market conditions and other factors. For instance, individuals are much more comfortable speaking with vendors and making purchasing decisions online than they were pre-pandemic and in recognition of that, many of our clients have equipped their sales teams with training and tools to meet that change. Speaking with your newly signed clients as well as lost opportunities can provide insights to help you advance your selling strategies. Were there weaknesses in your process? Was your message poorly articulated? These could be indicators of issues which can be addressed by providing additional training, employing a new sales strategy like Account Based Selling or creating new collateral and messaging. And by engaging long time clients, you can uncover advocates who would be willing to provide references, approve case studies or present at an event.
Outreach Best Practices
Whether you contract a neutral third party to conduct interviews or perform them yourself, we at ML strongly encourage you to build a systematic program to listen to the voice of your customer. It is impossible to know too much about them but knowing too little can affect your bottom line.
Mariana Loboguerrero is one of ML’s executive interviewers and confirms that being a neutral voice dramatically influences the information she collects. “I conduct interviews both for our clients as an extension of their team, as well as anonymously” Mariana says. “While both means are very effective, I find that contacts are much more willing to share information with me in the second instance. Either way, the key to making the interviewee comfortable and facilitate sharing is to engage them in a conversational style.”
“…the key to making the interviewee comfortable and facilitate sharing is to engage them in a conversational style.”
We believe the best method of engagement is by phone or video conferencing. Two-way communication results in a more robust discussion that leads to a better understanding of your customers’ perceptions. While paper or electronic surveys can be used, they are ineffective at capturing the interviewee’s full story and completion rates are typically low. That being said, if your resources are limited, this method is better than no outreach at all.
We also recommend that you maintain a regular cadence of interviews. Conducted on a consistent schedule, interviews are invaluable for spotting trends early so that you can respond to them. But be conscious of not wearing out your welcome. Your clients are busy! If you are finding participation is low, your clients may find value in seeing an aggregate of the intel you have collected. Offer up a White Paper that shares key insights to compel them to want to participate.
Also, ensure you speak to a good cross-section including users of your product or service as well as management and the c-suite who may be responsible for the purchasing decisions and can provide insight into future corporate initiatives.
Finally, be sure you are collecting and analyzing the data you receive. Erin Studstill, ML’s Director of Account Operations says, “Gaining insight into each of your customer’s thoughts and views is so important, as is aggregating those responses to see where you are trending. What are the areas where you excel and delight? Where could you add focus to improve? Are there opportunities for expansion? Then, keep tracking against these benchmarks and create that continual feedback loop so you can fully understand how your customers feel about your company and the quality of your work.”
“Gaining insight into each of your customer’s thoughts and views is so important, as is aggregating those responses to see where you are trending.”
Our new “Voice of the Customer” brochure provides real-life examples of how our clients are successfully listening to their customers and realizing operational benefits. The scenarios shared may inspire you to identify questions you should be asking your own customers.
If you are looking for help building a systematic process for conducting interviews and listening to the voice of your customer, please feel free to contact us. We’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you!
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