How hard is it to engage your customers in a conversation? For some businesses, it is easy. And for far too many, it seems to be quite challenging. But why is that?
Is it the desire to be more efficient? Hit a growth target? Achieve arbitrary metrics that may or may not impact the quality of the work or service we provide?
Or is it that we’ve become too focused on all the internal workings of the business that we’ve lost sight of the fact without customers, we don’t have a business?
Honestly I think it is a combination of all these factors.
Engaging customers helps the bottom line
According to a recent study published by Oracle, customer experience is set to be the number one brand differentiator in 2020 (and beyond). Additionally, the study shares that 74% of people said customer experience impacts their willingness to be loyal to a brand. 59% of customers will switch brands due to a poor experience. And 40% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
And yet another survey found that $62 billion is LOST each year to bad service.
How to engage your customers in a conversation?
Talk to them. As I learned from being part of Start Up Games and UI Venture School, customer discovery is key. Before you launch a new product or service, a start-up is advised to do customer discovery interviews. The point is to talk with your prospective customers and find out if what you think is a problem that needs solving is actually a problem. And if it is a big enough problem, will your customer pay to have it solved for them.
As an established business, you might consider keeping an empty chair at the table during all your meetings. This chair represents the customer. Business meetings are meant to have all the key stakeholders at the table – your customer is certainly one that needs to be there. Yes, this means you will be doing a bit of imagining but it will be helpful in the long run.
If not an empty chair, have a photo or image of your ideal customer prominently displayed in and around the office. For the same reason as the empty chair – seeing this image will keep the customer top of mind.
One of my LinkedIn connections shared that she is now writing all of the posts in response to a question her VA is sending her each day. The questions are ones that might be asked by a prospective client. She now feels as though she is having a direct conversation with someone when writing her posts rather than a faceless sea of names, many of whom are not her ideal client.
Finally each time a new idea is brought up for consideration in your business, ask these questions:
- How do we know there is a need for this idea?
- Which customers told us it is needed or necessary?
- What did our customer tell us about this idea?
Be obsessed with your customers
As Dr. William J. Mayo of the Mayo Clinic said: The best interst of the patient is the ONLY interest to be considered.
Switch out patient for customer or client and this statement is easily as applicable to your business as it is anyone elses.
I leave you with this question from Scott J Miller’s book, Marketing Mess to Branding Success:
Have you become so distracted by your internal focus, that you’ve lost external focus on your customers?
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- 7 ways to Create a Great Customer Experience Strategy
- Marketing Mess to Branding Success, Scott J Miller
- Brands start with trust with Scott J Miller on the Pursuit of Purpose
- Return on relationship on the Pursuit of Purpose
- The Pursuit of Purpose archive