The importance of listening is perhaps best illustrated by what happens when a company does not listen: they forego a second chance to make things right with a customer. As humans, we all seek acknowledgement that our opinions and problems matter. When a customer takes the time to let you know how you could make things better and it repeatedly goes ignored, they will go anywhere where they finally feel heard, understood, and valued.
Why your company needs to listen before engaging your customers
Companies are overwhelmed by the volume of conversation, and sometimes don’t know where to start. Simply listening the right way provides the compass to the right entry into online dialogue. Once you’ve explored the nature of the conversations taking place, you can start to prioritize listening and engagement objectives.
Take the time to inform yourself about conversational trends, customer expectations, and all the what-ifs of how your community is likely to react when you start conversing with them. That way, instead of being stumped during an influx of product inquiries, you’ll be able to confidently and consistently connect with your customers, answer their questions, and evolve your engagement strategy over time.
The key is to pick a specific type of conversation and start there. For some companies, the first step is to work to correct reputation problems, like negative comments or posts. For others, it’s just to establish a presence in the communities where their customers are already talking about them, to demonstrate that they’re listening and available. And for those that don’t yet have buzz about them, the place to start is by contributing to larger conversations—the ones they want to be associated with.
The intelligence you mine through listening becomes the foundation for your engagement strategy, and making the case for getting your entire organization involved—from customer service to marketing to technical support and sales.
What to listen to.
The first thing you want to do is see if there are conversations about your brand that are happening online or elsewhere. Hone in on search terms related to:
- Brand names
- Seasonal campaign names and terms
- Names of executives or stakeholders
- Names of specific products and services you offer
- Nicknames, misspellings, or abbreviations of any of the above
Want to be proactive? Focus on these search terms to understand the larger landscape that surrounds your business in order to determine where you fit in:
- Phrases that define the markets you serve
- Larger industry keywords or categories
- Professional organizations you belong to or that fit your business profile
- Names of your industry thought leaders
- Keyword phrases that indicate an intent to purchase or learn more
We often learn by observation, so keeping tabs on your competitors can provide you with invaluable intelligences about whom they’re hiring, how they’re promoting their products and services in social media, and what their customers think about them. Knowing this kind of information, you can tailor your business strategies accordingly. Concentrate competitor monitoring on:
- Names of competitive companies, brands, products and services
- Stakeholders in those companies
- Buzz around competitive campaigns or promotions
- Nicknames and misspellings (and the like) of any of these
As brands listen over time, they start to identify common customer questions, complaints or requests as well as which actions sales agents, front line staff and marketing communication efforts are getting wrong or right. If your company does not find the time to listen to its customers, you will never know why you are performing the way that you are performing. Take the time and make the effort to listen to your customers , whether on line or off- line. the insight that you get will enable your organisation to grow and move your products and services in the right customer centric direction.
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