“You’re short on ears and long on mouth.” That statement would surely get your attention if it was from a customer, wouldn’t it? It’s actually a line from the early 70s John Wayne movie, Big Jake, but it emphasizes what Diogenes said centuries ago; “We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” Listening is essential to successful communication and a successful business. In business, you serve your customers and in order to serve them you must listen to know what’s on their mind.
The book, Customer Loyalty: How to Earn It, How to Keep It, reported that 87 percent of customers feel that the companies with whom they interact don’t listen to them well enough. That’s a wake-up call.
Listening is the best opportunity to know your customer. We try to live that motto by providing excellent customer service in the modular solutions space. You learn about their needs and their problems. It helps you focus on what is important, not-so-important and what needs to be corrected to provide a better experience. Listening also shows that you care about the customer, acknowledge their feelings and respect them. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author on human potential Bryant H. McGill notes, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
Customers should always be a business’ number one priority and their assessment of your performance can affect your bottom line. Beyond contact in a sales or consulting setting, most world-class organizations rely on customer feedback through surveys to gauge the attributes of products and services that customers appreciate most as well as what they do not appreciate. Analyzing both the pros and cons allows a company to improve, evolve and become stronger.
Good listening techniques can ensure customer retention and loyalty, both of which are major goals as satisfied customers or “promoters” will more likely recommend a company to others. Consider these interesting facts:
- It is six to seven times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
- Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about up to six people about their experience. Dissatisfied customers tell up to 15 people about their experience. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
- A 10 percent increase in customer retention levels result in a 30 percent increase in the value of a company. (Bain & Co.)
- 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. (McKinsey)
- It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. (Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner)
At Williams Scotsman, there is formal system in place to quantify the value loyal customers bring. That data is then used to invest in improving the customer experience. According to Ray Onofrio, Williams Scotsman’s commercial director for the Northeast, the system provides customers with a clear communication channel. “The system gives us the opportunity to thank the promoters for their business, as well as to follow up and take corrective action when a customer advises us of a problem,” explains Onofrio. “It also helps to reinforce the value of providing great customer service to many of our employees who don’t often have direct contact with customers.” Through this culture of listening, Williams Scotsman has provided great modular solutions for our customers. Learn more on our case studies page.
Still not sure just how powerful having a formal system in place for customer feedback can be? Williams Scotsman area manager Rigel Frame shares this story:
“A customer recently stated they had leased a unit a year ago and had a positive experience with us. But the customer communicated they may consider giving our competition a try. This feedback allowed me to call the customer, walk through his challenges and assure him that WS would exceed his expectations. He thanked me and ended by saying because of the call he would give us the business the next time.” Frame emphasizes that the system also provides valuable training and talking points for team members to use as they work with customers. “We can train on theory, but the system gives us specifics that really help us communicate with the customer about their needs.”
Smart businesses never ignore the voice of their customers. Remember this Turkish proverb:
If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.