How to Effectively Listen to Customers

Customer needs, wants, and expectations are changing rapidly, and brands that want to keep up need to aggressively monitor customer commentary if they hope to continue providing the experiences that those individuals seek. Though listening to customers is merely the first step in a wider, effective framework for customer experience (CX) program success, doing so enables brands to better understand what customers are looking for and to deliver real business outcomes, not just keep track of metrics.

With those in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to effectively listen to customers and how doing so enables wider CX achievement.

I Hear You

The first step companies can take toward better customer listening is to carry that function out in as many forms as possible. Surveys, for example, remain a useful means of gathering customer feedback, particularly when questions are written in an open-ended manner and encourage customers to submit information about the topics they care about, not just what the brand dispersing those surveys might. 

Though surveys remain relevant in the modern experience landscape, there are other tools that brands should also use to gather the richest feedback they can. Multimedia feedback options are a must in this day and age, especially as many customers find image and video the most ideal forms of self-expression. Options like these can be included in both surveys and in-app digital intercepts.

It’s important for brands seeking richer customer stories to insert feedback opportunities into numerous touchpoints, which is one reason why website feedback options are also handy. Customers appreciate being able to submit feedback even as they’re taking a journey with a brand, and website feedback can be an invaluable means of enabling that.

Finally, companies need to pay close attention to what customers are saying on social media and other customer service channels. Though it should come as a surprise to no one, these forms of communication can provide invaluable feedback that brands can put toward a better experience.

The Point of Better Data

It’s not enough for organizations to pick one of those aforementioned listening methods and run with it—rather, as we mentioned at the beginning of this discussion, brands need to use as many feedback methods as possible concurrently. By listening for customer stories in as many places and with as many methods as possible, companies can drastically improve the odds they’ll receive quality, actionable feedback.

It’s also important for brands to gather information like this from an oft-overlooked data source: employees. Employees are integral to providing a quality experience and are brands’ customer-facing front line, so it’s safe to assume that they also have valuable intelligence for companies to reap and make use of. Thus, brands should pay close attention to soliciting feedback from both customers and employees.

Organizations that gather all of this feedback will be best positioned to understand who their customers are, what sorts of experiences they’re seeking, and how to meet customer needs and expectations even as they evolve in real-time. Now that we’ve discussed how to better listen to customers, be sure to check out the next chat in our series, understanding the customer, to learn more about building a better experience.

Want to learn more about creating an effective success framework for your CX program? Check out our POV on the subject, written by inveterate CX expert Eric Smuda, here.

About Author

Eric Smuda CX Distinguished Practitioner in XI Strategy and Enablement

Eric Smuda has built a distinguished career out of turning venerable brands into CX powerhouses. His novel, impassioned approach to customer experience implementation changed the face of the rental car industry, in which he found award-winning ways to connect customers and companies. It’s only fitting, then, that Eric serves as a Principal of CX Strategy & Implementation at InMoment, lending his seasoned perspective to many of the company’s strategies.

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