“We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things.” – Charles W. Chesnutt
Oftentimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Take cooking, for example. One year I had the goal to learn how to cook at least one new dish per week. So I started by collecting a bunch of recipes online, and was quickly overwhelmed by the new equipment I’d need (a dehydrator?!) and the strange ingredients I’d never heard of (palm shortening?!). But I realized that making small changes were a lot more manageable – such as trying one new ingredient at a time, or mastering one new kitchen gadget at a time. As a result, at the end of that year, I had become more confident and skilled in the kitchen.
In business, and especially in Marketing, the same is true. The little things are what usually add up to the biggest impact. For example, making small improvements in your customer service – such as answering customer inquiries quicker, ultimately leads to improved customer satisfaction. Or starting to produce meaningful content such as blog articles and sales tools ultimately helps establish your firm as a viable option in the minds of your prospects.
The little things may take more time, but they often help create long-lasting change. So what’s one small thing you can do starting today that can have a major impact in your business? Listening.
Let’s Bring Back the Art of Listening. But Why?
In many ways, listening is a dying art in this “always-on” multitasking world. Sometimes we think we are listening, but what we’re really doing is just plotting our response to what the other person is saying. We are often so focused on the next step, the next sentence, the next reaction that we forget to be present in the moment.
Caught up between the growing number of devices and channels of communication—social media, texting, email, IMs, chats—we often pay more attention to our communications in the virtual space than to those in the real world. How does this affect your business?
Today, when consumers are increasingly taking to the Internet and social media to make their voices heard, the question is—are you really listening to them? At the same time, the virtues of “old-school” ways of listening—be it phone calls or face-to-face meetings—aren’t going away anytime soon. In 2014, a UK study revealed that 68% of customers have had poor phone experiences with major financial services brands, with 36% saying this ‘definitely’ makes them consider changing company.
So let’s do something we normally don’t do—Listen, albeit the “old-school” way.
Strike a Genuine Conversation With Your Customers
As the marketing world increasingly turns to big data and personalization to beat customer-service blues, brands are latching onto any bit of data they can possibly lay their hands on. Whether that data is meaningful or even accurate, is often an afterthought. This explains why most companies struggle when it comes to making sense of all the data they have collected.
Sure, big data is a goldmine of customer information. But why ignore an obvious source of this information that’s sitting right under your nose?—your existing customers.
Take the opportunity to really talk to your customers, rather than talking about them. Step outside of your normal day-to-day routine. Pull your head up from the big data and social media listening, and replace them with a genuine conversation with a prospect or customer. You may be surprised what you can learn.
How to do it?
Line up a few interviews with your customers or prospects. 30 minutes should be enough if you are planning to talk to customers on the phone. Tell them you are trying to learn as much as you can so that your company can serve them better. And, be sure to follow these tips to prepare and plan for a successful interview. You may be surprised what you can learn.
To sum it up, implementing this one small change can be a major game-changer for your business. And once you have the wheels in motion, they tend to stay that way.