When was your last really great experience you had as a customer? Were your expectations EXCEEDED? When was the last disappointing experience? What are the ratio of great experiences to disappointments? How much of your great experience was based on understanding your needs thanks to great listening or even you yourself listening to a satisfied customer?
In the latest bubble fad with social media, I experience more broadcast messages and not as much listening. I see lots of “me too” chatter that pushes content for the sake of, well, pushing content. Companies are eager to “tell their story” over and over and over and over…yet, are they really listening to the customer in return? Or, are they even letting customers talk to each other to share knowledge and experience? Most often I see how companies want to publish tons of content in order to help prospects make a buying decision or to get existing customers to buy more. There is certainly a place for this. But in many ways this is like the new era of publishing brochureware. Remember the days when marketing departments measured success on the amount of collateral or PR sent to the wire? (See my previous post “Smarter, Faster, Stronger with Marketing Automation”) Companies that don’t have a well planned customer marketing strategy that focuses on the right balance of broadcasting and listening will win. Those that simply broadcast will die.
Amazon.com Gets It
I am a loyal customer to Amazon.com. I have purchased a vast array of products from them for 13 years. One of the most valuable services they provide are customer reviews and ratings. I have caught myself many times when I was ready to purchase based on some manufacturer’s broadcast hype and then I read multiple customer reviews that provided sobering reality. Even though Amazon isn’t the manufacturer, they open the kimono and sit in silent neutrality when customers want to share information – good or bad. Amazon’s fellow customers help me be an Amazon customer.
Before getting into the classic marketing cycle of broadcasting messages and storytelling, remember that half of the conversation is listening.
- Provide easy avenues for feedback.
- Let your customers talk to each other.
- Respond rapidly with inquiries.
- Confirm that the right information was provided.
- Admit when mistakes are made.
- Fix the mistakes.
- Let your customers sell to your customers. BINGO!
The organizations that do marketing the best are the ones who understand when to be quiet and listen and let other customers sell for them.
Quiet please. Time to listen.