HOW TO HAVE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS
Why does your company exist?
Ask any business owner or manager this question and you’ll get a wide range of answers.
“We exist to make the world a better place!”
“We exist to build great things!”
“We exist to smother the world in ice cream!”
These are wonderful, lofty ideals. (Imagine what life would be like if every brand made the world better!) However, the simple reality---and the common denominator of every business still alive and kicking---is that they exist to serve their customers.
No customers, no business. No business, no changing the world.
Customers are crucial to thriving as a brand. So why are we so afraid to pick up the phone and have a meaningful conversation with them? Why are we so scared of our customers?
LET’S DIVE IN
What is a “meaningful conversation,” anyway?
It’s a conversation that contributes to moving a relationship forward. It’s the act of getting to know a person and deepening trust. A meaningful conversation is not a box to be ticked but an experience to be enjoyed.
80% of customers consider the experience that a business provides
to be as important as its products and services
(Source: Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report)
How a customer experiences your brand is everything. And worthwhile conversations are the foundation of the customer experience. A single chat, note or call can change everything about the customer’s journey and how they feel about your brand.
We see the opposite of this in our industry all the time. An order is placed. It ships. The invoice is sent. And then radio silence ensues, leaving the customer to wonder if they even matter. They feel like a footnote. Or worse, a sales quota.
Hard truth time:
If you treat customers like leads, they’ll start seeing your product or service as a simple commodity. They’ll shop around for the cheapest solution from the cheapest company.
If you start treating your customers like the precious, awesome, important person they are, they’ll stay loyal. And loyalty only comes from positive interactions and evolving relationships.
IT TAKES COURAGE TO ENGAGE WITH OTHERS
Brené Brown, thought leader extraordinaire, once said, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Yes, engaging with customers means you might hear something terrible. You might be given a problem to solve. You might hear something unexpected. You might even be rejected. These are all valid fears. And part of what makes us human.
However, there’s an excellent chance you might hear something wonderful that completely changes everything.
Here’s the thing…
Customers want to feel heard. They want to feel important. They want to matter. And you can make all of this happen for them simply by reaching out. A phone call. A note. A pop-in with a small gift (one of our favorite ways to engage).
Customers don’t expect you to have all the answers or be flawless. It’s okay to say, “I’m not sure. Let me look into that and get back to you.” Your customers appreciate honesty and transparency. They want someone who is honest, reliable and committed to helping them achieve their goals.
A FEW TIPS TO MAKE YOUR CONVERSATIONS MORE MEANINGFUL
- Use natural language that shows vulnerability, empathy and substance. No one wants to be in a scripted conversation. Take your time. Customers are not some box to tick.
- Be the listener people need. This means less talking, more noticing. “Tell me more” are three simple words you can use to keep the conversation rolling into deeper territory. When you ask questions, people feel like their thoughts are valued.
- Personalize every interaction. According to tech company Accenture, one-third of customers abandon a business relationship due to a lack of personalization. What does “personalization” mean, exactly? Remember your customers. Call them by name. Know their likes and dislikes. Ask about things that are important to them.
- Invest in training for yourself and your employees. Active listening, expressing empathy, using positive language, and asking the right questions...each can make a difference and are skills that can be taught.
- Have a face-to-face conversation and leave something behind that they’ll love and hold onto. It’s a simple gesture that can lead to great things. The “leave-behind” is one of our favorite ways to engage with clients. Sure, you could hand people a business card or glossy brochure and call it a day. But the extra-mile step of giving something tangible and tactile—a rarity in today’s digital world—makes a lasting impression. Bring the delight with a unique branded mug or your favorite pen with a note explaining why you always reach for this one in a drawer full of average pens. (Everyone can relate to having a favorite something.) The big-brained thinkers and doers here at Buzztag love creating leave-behind branded merch for our clients. We have tons of exciting and unforgettable ideas that will crank the dial to 11 on your customer interactions. Hit us up, and let us show you what we can do.
THINK OF RELATIONSHIPS AS COLLABORATIONS
Customers are more than a transactional relationship, and great companies are willing to go beyond transactional communication. Rather than competing on price, focus on having better conversations. It’s worth it to cut through the superficial layers of generic relationships and get to the pointy, meaningful stuff that leaves people delighted.
Hmmm....to delight. Now that’s a good reason to exist.