Better Customer Conversations: 1-2-3!

Posted on Oct 13, 2015

It costs 6x as much to acquire a new customer as to retain an existing one.

As business people, we all know that our success depends upon our customers. They generate future profits for our business. They drive new business through word-of-mouth referrals. They help us understand how to be better at what we do.

At least occasionally though, we walk away from conversations with these valuable people feeling hurt, confused or frustrated. Why?

Active Listening

Well, at least part of the answer can be found in active listening.

Active Listening is a technique that moves from hearing to listening and understanding

Step One: Focus

In our mult-tasking, always-connected world, it can be difficult to focus on a single thing. When you are talking with a customer, though, you have to remember that nothing – and I mean nothing – is more important than that individual. Don’t answer phones, texts, or emails. Don’t start thinking about your next meeting, the 50 things you need to finish before the end of the day, or what you’re having for lunch.

To Listen, you have to Focus.

Step Two: Be Clear

Language is tricky stuff. For example, to one person the word “stock” may mean a financial investment (e.g., the stock market). To another, the word “stock” may mean inventory, as in “We don’t have much of that color in stock.” Make an effort to identify and clarify ambiguous language, particularly jargon.

To Understand, you have to Be Clear.

Step Three: Assume Good Intent

From time to time, you may have a conversation with a customer in distress. They may simply be having a bad day. They may have had a poor experience with your company. They may be confused and afraid to show their lack of understanding. Whatever the root cause, distressed customers can often chose their words poorly. The situation can get worse if the emotionally charged conversation intensifies. Don’t throw out valuable customer input as so much ranting from a crackpot. Put your emotions on the shelf, attempt to defuse the situation, and listen. Really listen.

To Grow, you have to accept Advice.

 

When you stop hearing and start listening, you’ll find that your customers are your most valuable advisors. And who doesn’t need a little free advice?


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Better Customer Conversations: 1-2-3!

by Scott A Livingston time to read: 2 min
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