Customer success, as we know, is a holistic approach to delivering the maximum possible value to customers. More than a strategy, it’s a mindset that businesses embrace to gain a competitive edge in their industry. If you’ve been in the business, you know how you must master human communication, the very first thing to be successful with your customers, which means speaking mindfully but listening even more intently.
If you look at it, your customer base faces a wide array of unique challenges, experiences, and opportunities when they explore your software product. Businesses that maintain a unified view of these instances and generalize use-cases often overlook essential details crucial for their business. Instead, interacting with the customers and listening to them can help SaaS businesses devise actionable solutions to the unique problems of their customers and can reduce their churn magnificently.
Active listening helps you build deep emotional connections with customers. It means being empathetic towards the speaker, offering undivided attention to enhance your relationship with them. Active listening is devoid of any preconceived notion and, more importantly, without any interruptions.
Here is what all you can do to be better at listening
1. Demand Feedback and Respond
Feedback clears up the air and creates a clear picture of how users use the software, their pain points and bugs if any. Keeping communication channels open and flexible is an important part of active listening. It encourages users to reach out with hesitation, at all times, via their preferred channel and share what they think of your product or service. Once the user connects, it’s best to respond to that feedback personally. It may encourage further input and strengthen professional relationships.
Suggested Read: Customer Advocacy guide
2 Reinstate What You Heard
Another great way to listen and grasp better is to repeat what the customers are occasionally saying but in your own words. This shouldn’t mean that you blatantly agree with what they say. Instead, it would help you confirm that what you understand is correct. Phrases like ‘so from what I understand…’, ‘you mean to say….’ and other similar ones help you ensure there is confusion between you and the speaker. More than anything, this would allow users to feel you heard and understood, which will set things right on many levels, especially with aggrieved consumers.
3 Identify Emotion Underneath the Communication
Everyone uses words to describe what they are feeling. So as a customer success manager, when you listen to your customers and discover how they think, it can be a win-win for both parties. Imagine if a customer is complaining and sharing their grievance with a customer success manager, and they reciprocate with empathy; it would make a customer feel heard.
Emotional interpretation of speech helps understand the psychological impact on the speaker and avert any chances of misunderstanding. Making emotional connections helps connect with customers deeper and ascertains that their message was heard loud and clear.
4 Stay put & Listen
All of us have gazillions of things to do on an everyday basis, and it’s common for us to get shit done while we use our ears to listen to what someone else has to say. But have you ever tried to communicate with someone who is doing something and claiming that they are all ears for you? You will feel unheard, even when the other person is listening.
Talking of the customer success function, an associate’s job may involve working remotely and connecting with customers via emails and calls. However, it’s best if you mandate the standard communication etiquette for active listening. Advise your customer success managers to leave everything else to focus on listening when they talk to a customer. Channeling undivided attention towards customer communication can only bring good to the business if anything. To absorb something in its entirety requires you to leave all other things and focus on what is being said.
5 Raising the Right Questions Timely
One-sided conversations are hard conversations at all. They may leave the speaker disconnected and feeling unheard. Even more annoying can be instances where a listener chooses to ask an irrelevant question. For example, there may be cases when a topic is already covered during the speech, but the question is about the same problem or, worse, on a completely unrelated topic. Both these cases show that the listener wasn’t paying attention. Asking the right questions requires you to be in sync and mindfully present during a conversation. In fact, sending the right kind of survey form via the right channel is an extension of raising the right questions at the right time.
6 Plan Your Interactions for Active Listening
Planning an interaction for a customer call helps you focus on what you want out of a conversation. It minimizes the risk of missing out on important information along with the flow of the interaction. For example, attending discovery meetings with a list of questions prepared helps you compile the takeaways and use them to improve; that is what active listening is all about. A customer who knows you are keen on listening will speak honestly and do you good.
7 Exit Surveys for the Greater Good
If you are out there, trying to figure out what irritated a customer beyond repair, there are innovative ways to find that out. Like asking for feedback, conducting an exit survey can also help you with churn reason segmentation. It can also make your ex-client feel like their presence mattered to you. If anything, a stitch in time saves nine. Compiling data from these surveys monthly or quarterly can help you map responses and delve into what customers feel. Once you find out the reason for MRR loss, you can improve your game to reduce further churn. Having the right kind of survey form definitely helps. Here are some top SaaS customer success metrics you should be tracking to be the best at what you do.
If you are one of those excellent customer-centric businesses that have been already actively listening to your customers, here is something you can do to catapult your effort in the right direction.
After listening to customer grievances and implementing the feedback, go back to the customer (after the quarter is over) and ask for more input about your improved offerings. Probe them and find out if there is a better way of doing what you are doing and share their insights internally for the more significant benefit. Nothing makes a customer feel valued like their input is counted in and implemented.
This kind of process creates opportunities to listen to your customers, encourage honest feedback and build a sense of satisfaction in them.