No, you probably didn’t. Unfortunately, most of us don’t. It is because we aren’t listening. The noise I am referring to is the chatter of your customers. Most executives, marketeers and sales people are too busy “running to the business” to listen to their customers. It sounds a little silly doesn’t it? However, admit it. It is true.
Don’t get me wrong. We all try. We all go to trade shows and listen to the occasional customer who is willing to share their thoughts. We listen to customers during sales calls – but in reality, we are simply trying to close the next deal. We listen to customers during customer support episodes – but if we were honest, we are really focusing on damage control.
No, I am talking about really “listening” to customers. Listening to their conversations. The chatter is happening all the time. Much of it is on the web. The real power-users of your products and services are in chat-rooms, communities, blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so forth. They are having conversations – good and bad about your products. They are sharing tips, solutions, favorite features, and yes, horror stories. These communities of users are marketing your products for you through their conversations. They are promoting your products in some cases, and trashing your products in others. They are defining your brand in a far more powerful way than you are with your well thought out brand strategy.
By listening to your customers, you can leverage your customer’s efforts. You can respond to problems and amplify the positive messages. You can learn from their ideas about new features. You can empower the vocal users to be ambassadors of your brand. You can create a dynamic feedback loop that is constantly providing input to your sales and marketing efforts, rather than a one-time study that is costly and occurs twice a year – at best. You can test market product ideas and strategies with your customers in real-time. And most importantly, you can embrace your most important asset – your customers.
Are you listening? What are they saying?
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