You’ve heard the quote before, probably spoken by a parent or a teacher:
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
This old quote is not just excellent life advice, it’s excellent business advice. As a business owner, you’ve got your head in the sand if you’re not listening to your customers. Gone are the days of winning more customers by being the loudest brand. If you want to gain more of the market share in your industry, you’ve got to be customer-centric. The only way to do that is by knowing (and therefore listening to) your customers.
How do you listen to your customers? Well, you could pay a market research company or put together an internal team to do survey research or put together focus groups. You could save that money and instead turn to your customer support people and dive into your support metrics.
Businesses who take an active role in being more customer-centric know how to listen to their customers – and do so before making important decisions like expanding their offerings, changing their policies, or updating their products. Here are some ways you can leverage customer support to listen to your customers.
Regular Pulse Checks
Your customer support people interact with customers on a daily basis at a time when your customers are experiencing frustrations with your product. Who better to turn to for customer feedback than the very people who interact with your customers?
A good customer support team has a solid communication workflow to handle the large amount of communication that needs to flow to and from your customers, the support team, and your developers.
Your support team should be able to report the following items on any given day:
- Current support issues
- Emerging Issues/acknowledged issues/archived issues
- Most frequently asked questions
- Support/traffic patterns
- Feature requests
As a business owner, this information is the most important information you can obtain from your customers. This is unbiased, real data about how your customers interact with your product, what they think about your product, what they want, and what their most common frustrations are.
Regular pulse checks with your support team will help you keep your ear to common issues and help you listen for opportunities to improve.
Your support metrics can also tell you a lot about your customers. Support metrics can uncover support issues, opportunities for improvements, and insights into your customers. Here are some metrics that will specifically help you gain better insight into your customers and their wants and needs.
Customer Satisfaction Rankings: This is the obvious first place to look and a great metric to pay attention to when it comes to the overall customer experience.
Number of replies per ticket: While this metric is usually used to look at how well your support team is communicating a solution and how efficient they are, it could also clue you into a major problem in a process or a particular resolution.
Support traffic: Researching the times and days when you have the largest volume of support traffic could tell you more about the usage patterns of your customers.
Most Common Questions/Problems: You’re always going to have common questions and problems. Rather than writing macros for them and calling it a day, pay close attention to what this could be saying about your product or your customers. Maybe you thought your users were more savvy than they are. Maybe you need to bolster your help center or rewrite it completely.
Steve Jobs is a great example of a CEO who was so in tune with the needs and wants of the market he was able to innovate and come out with a product before consumers even realized they needed it. Maybe you’ll never be able to see the future the way that Steve Jobs could, but what you can do is listen more carefully to stay in tune with what your customer want. You can do this by keeping an eye on your feature requests.
If you’ve got a community forum or more specifically a support forum, you’ve got another gold mine of customer information – and a great place to listen! Here’s another area where a regular pulse check is needed. By checking in regularly with your forum’s community manager, you can stay in tune with what your most passionate users are saying about your brand and your product. You can also get a feel for what the most common issues are, and how other members of the community are working around problems they find with your product.
Listening to your customers through your support channels gives you a more in-depth and real perspective of your customers because it removes potential bias. While surveys are great, the results can be skewed if you don’t ask the right questions or if you ask them in a biased way. Focus groups are also great, but results there can also be skewed as well. Looking at how customers interact with your support can provide a real picture of their wants, needs, and frustrations.
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