“Sit down and listen” – We’ve all heard this before.

But what does sitting got to do with communication? One research gives a clear answer – it shows that most people can recall only 17 to 25% of the things they’ve just heard.

Now that’s a good reason to sit down.

The problem gets more prominent if you happen to be a salesman or a marketer. In such a case, you need to step up your listening game big time. Here’s why.


The Importance of Listening

How do you find out what to improve in your business, and what’s already working like a charm?

You can hire consulting firms, analyze your spreadsheets, or simply start listening to your customers.

The fact is that their feedback is the cheapest and often the most reliable source of information for any company. The same goes if you’re advertising your business.

As the copywriting legend Eugene Schwartz said:

“Copy is not written. Copy is assembled.”

And to put together a marketing piece that will truly resonate with your customers you need to use their own voice. That’s why listening is a crucial part of being a good marketer.

That’s all great, but how can you do that effectively, and without stressing over every single email that hits your inbox?


How to Listen and Get a Valuable Feedback

Stop Talking

The truth is, we’re much more inclined to talk about ourselves than listen to other people.

Unless the other person has something to say that will directly improve our lives, we’ll listen but won’t pay much attention. Regular people may get away with such an attitude, but not us marketers.

If you want to sell anything to people, you have to listen to every little detail. But here’s good news – it’s going to be easier than you’d think. Once you let other people talk and show that you’re paying attention, you won’t have to speak almost at all! And the best part is, they’ll love you for it more than their jabbering friends.


Ask A LOT of right questions

Here’s another fact about humans. They enjoy being asked stuff and providing over-extended answers. There’s just one catch – you need to ask the proper questions that won’t make them feel uncomfortable or bored. 

If your conversation starts turning into a survey, you’ll look like an irritating 5-year old. Ask questions that will be valuable for you and will allow your interlocutor to establish himself as an authority.


Interact with the answers you get

Asking the right question is just half of the equation. To keep the other person willing to answer more questions, you need to give them something in return. You’ll do that by reacting to their answers, sharing your point of view, or describing a story that their response brought back in your head. Remember to keep the conversation natural and not robotic – humans don’t trust robots that much, you know.


Pay attention to non-verbal signals

What you hear is not everything that goes on during the conversation. The same sentence may have multiple meanings based on the tone and facial expressions of a speaker. That’s why live interviews have a higher value than chatting on messaging apps or talking on the phone. All people know that subconsciously – that’s why they’re much more engaged and nervous during the live meetings. To get detailed feedback, choose live conversation whenever you have a chance. 

It’s going to be more challenging, but the rewards will be worth it.


Take notes

No matter how much focused you’ll be, you won’t remember everything. Probably not even half.

So be realistic about your human flaws and write down your customer’s feedback. If you’re having a conversation, you may be shy to do that – you shouldn’t be. Most of the time, your interlocutors will feel flattered to see you taking notes. They must be brilliant individuals if you want to put their words on paper!


Examples of Collecting and Using Customer Feedback

If you already know how to listen well, here’s what you do next:

Read LOTS of Reviews

The most straightforward way to get your head around your customer’s needs is reading reviews online. If people review your product – great, gather all of these reviews into a spreadsheet and add more as they come up. If you didn’t get any reviews yet, fear not for there’s a simple solution. Look for products that are similar to yours and check what people say about them. You’ll find hundreds of reviews on Amazon and other large e-commerce platforms. Keep in mind: focus on long and detailed posts, avoid overly general ones.


Interview Your Customers

Whether your customers are satisfied with your service or not, they most likely got a lot to say about the experience. They’re the ones that offer the best data available for any company, and they’re often willing to provide it entirely for free. Not taking advantage of such an opportunity would be a deadly mistake for anyone that’s trying to scale their business. That’s why whenever someone completes an order with you, ask him to give you feedback.

There are two ways to do that:

  • Survey

If your product is cheap and uncomplicated, your best bet is to prepare a quick survey. It shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes to complete, and the questions should be easy to digest.

  • Phone / Skype Interview

If what you’re offering is more complex and expensive – you can ask your customers for a short live interview. Most people probably won’t have the time to do that, but even just a tiny portion will provide massive value. If they refuse, ask to at least complete a survey – most will. During the interview, remember about being an attentive listener and don’t just fire up with questions one by one. Give the person you’re interviewing more flexibility, and you’ll get more unexpected and original feedback in return.


Support Tickets

These are often neglected and overly-automated. That’s unfortunate, for they can be a great source of information regarding the quality of your funnel and products. Investing in the top support staff will also significantly improve how customers perceive your brand, and as a result – it will make them more willing to give you valuable feedback.


Engage With People on Social Media

Lots of businesses are visible on social media platforms nowadays. But how many of them just post there and move on? The vast majority. It’s better than nothing, but it leaves a massive opportunity on the table. And the best part of using Social Media? It doesn’t cost you anything. Start maximizing your activity by joining interesting conversations, liking, and commenting on other people’s posts. Also, don’t forget to respond to every single comment you get. It’s going to make a huge difference and provide you with a lot of data about your customer’s interests and problems.


Voice of Customer Data and Increasing Personalization

Giving your customers a more custom-tailored experience is turning from a growing trend into a common standard. The huge growth of this marketing method shows no signs of stopping and provided outstanding results for many companies in recent years:

  • 82% of marketers reported an increased open rate using personalized emails in comparison to generic ones.

  • Over half of digital marketers list personalization as their main priority.

  • Marketers observe an average growth of 20% in sales thanks to using personalized experiences.

Banking on personalization requires collecting your customers’ feedback daily. You have to get to know them inside and out to capitalize on this method, and proper listening skills will help you with that.

I hope this article pushed you into being more of a listener and less of a talker. Make sure to share your personal experiences in communicating with customers in the comment section.

Stay frosty!


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