Three Ways to Ensure Your Customer is Heard
By Stephen Shander
Chief Customer Officer, North America
Empathy. I cannot understate the importance of this. In any and all customer interactions, it is something I live by—and something you should, too.
The reason is because it works. Every time. For B2B organizations, it’s the key ingredient to building a successful and long-term customer relationship. By placing an organization’s needs and wants above your own. By helping an organization achieve their goals on their terms. This is how you put yourself in the position to provide genuine value.
This is easier said than done, of course. More than anything, it requires listening to, hearing, and acting on what the customer is saying. If you fail to do this, you’ll never execute on being empathetic.
Below, I’ve outlined the top three ways to make sure your customer is being heard. Following these will ensure a strong, valuable, and mutually-beneficial customer relationship for the long-term.
1. Understand what your customer is trying to accomplish and how you can help
Plain and simple, this is a must. And it’s doesn’t just entail understanding what your customer does or what their mission statement is. It goes deeper than that. Much deeper.
To accomplish this, you need to fully grasp the big picture. What are their strategic priorities? What are their goals and targets over the next three years? What’s their strategy? What’s considered success? What are they investing in?
What’s more, you need to determine how your organization and solution helps your customer achieve their objectives. It’s imperative that you listen to your customer. The objective is to help your customer maximize their goals. This is the surest way to show your customer’s voice truly matters to you, and the best way you can provide value to your customer.
To sum it up: Understand the big picture. Understand how your solution can help your customer execute on their strategy and achieve their objectives.
2.Understand the organization’s customers and competition
This is a vital part of understanding the bigger picture. I see only two paths to winning your customer over: Allow them to provide more value to their customers or give them an advantage over their competition.
It’s as straightforward as this: You’ll never be able to provide for these two things if you’re not fully taking them into account.
There’s more to be said for this. When you understand what your customer’s customer values, it gives you a more complete understanding of your customer’s goals and strategy. It gives you valuable insight into their thinking and reveals to you the things they truly care about.
This too is true of understanding your customer’s competition, but with one addition: It provides industry insight. Not just where the industry is now, but where it is headed and how others are reacting and preparing for it.
3. Know the people you’re dealing with
I think this point needs some clarification. I don’t just mean be acquainted with the people you interact with—I mean know everything about them.
Empathy is a multipronged approach. Organizations have their strategies and goals. The people within that organization have their own.
You need to be as empathetic with the people you interact with as with the organization itself. You should know their background, where they came from, what their goals are, and what motivates them. If the CEO came from a engineering and development background, you should absolutely be aware of and account for it. She/he likely has a different perspective and values a different approach than the CEO who used to head sales.
What’s more, you need to be mindful of how each individual fits within the organization and what their specific goals are. It sounds obvious, but it’s overlooked too often: A CIO is going to value different things than the head of sales, or marketing, or finance. Even if they’re working toward the same objectives, they have different goals and priorities within their departments. Empathizing with these individuals is a critical part of empathizing with the organization as a whole.
Empathy and knowledge are the surest way to provide your customer value—the only sure way to win in business. Doing this requires the ability to not just listen, but to actually hear what your customer is saying and to act on that. If your goal is to a build long-term, sustainable and mutually-beneficial relationship with your customer, then these three things must—absolutely must—be a priority.