In the age of snake oil salesmen and traveling doctors, a “quick close” was the best (and only) way to do business — gotta close the deal before anyone finds out it’s all a sham.
For organizations today, closing the deal is only the first step. After a prospect becomes a customer, successful organizations work on forming real partnerships with their customers — rather than treating them as another tick up on their quarterly revenue quota.
In other words, organizations are putting more value on customer experience. And one of the tried and true ways for improving the customer experience is listening to your customers.
“Because customers today are so discerning and powerful, most organizations need to invest far more in customer experience” –PwC
Encourage customer feedback
Many organizations are leery about encouraging their customers to leave reviews because they fear a bad review might come out in public on a third party site, like G2 Crowd or Capterra.
But in this day and age, reviews are the lifeblood of any organization. The more reviews you have, the more credibility you have — even bad reviews up your credibility as an organization. And the truth of the matter is that, unless you’re selling ice cream, you’re not going to make everyone happy.
“90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends over advertising.” – Hubspot
So why are reviews so important? A big reason is that we have all been trained to distrust advertising and marketing material. A 2017 Deloitte Global Study found that 75% of North Americans engage in at least one form of regular ad-blocking.
Meanwhile, 75% of people mistrust advertising and only 8% of people agree that internet advertising is the best source of information, according to 2019 Hubspot data.
However, people trust people. According to the same Hubspot data, 90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends, while 70% believe other consumer opinions.
When it comes to establishing credibility and trust, it’s smart to have a plan in place to focus on gathering support from your customers on these review platforms.
Ditto, for product feedback. You want to have your door wide open, so customers feel comfortable leaving suggestions. Whether that’s a user community, a customer success team, or any combination that works, your product and your organization should be equipped to accept requests easily and often.
Read and react to your customers’ reviews
Having your door open is one thing. To truly make the customer feel welcome, you have to be a good listener. Each review your organization receives should be read (not scanned), and whenever possible, shared with your team.
At RFPIO, our CEO Ganesh reads each review aloud to the marketing and sales team. Our development team in Coimbatore receives an email of each review. This ensures that the whole team is in the loop with both feedback to improve the tool—and customer success stories we can all celebrate together.
“The customer of 2020 will be more informed and in charge of the experience they receive. They will expect companies to know their individual needs and personalize the experience.” – Walker
After you read the review, it’s time to react. Internally, define your customer review strategy to keep responses consistent. Are you going to respond to all reviews, good or bad? Are you only going to address the negative reviews to let your customers know you’re taking their suggestions seriously?
Whichever response strategy you decide, once a review is posted, respond to your customer within 24 hours. Remember, they took time out of their busy schedules to leave a review for you. They deserve a prompt reply that expresses your gratitude and/or concern for their happiness.
Learn from your customers to improve your product
The same rule with reviews applies to product feedback. Listen to what your customer has to say, then take action as a team. Actively engaging with your customers and promoting a sense of community involvement will only make your product stronger.
Your customers are in the solution more than you are—well, with the exception of the development team. The big difference is that they are working in the tool, so there are real situations and deadlines at play.
We can learn a lot from our customers to improve our product. And, we certainly do here at RFPIO—over 90% of customer feedback has been implemented or is in development.
While the 24 hours review response rule is likely too challenging for product changes, timeliness is what can truly wow the customer. Establish ground rules for customer feedback implementation, along with a goal each month for how much feedback you want to implement. This is the action piece of your customer engagement strategy, and how you execute will demonstrate your organization’s commitment.
What happens to your organization when you listen well?
Good things. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when you’re a SaaS company…reviews are priceless. Your customer’s first-hand experience helps prospects understand what it’s like to use your tool. Even the best demo by your top salesperson can’t compete with a glowing user testimonial.
Traction will inevitably start to happen over time. Your product will start to gain recognition in your industry, recognition that’s powered by the people—your community of users.
When you take your customer’s feedback seriously, you’re fully engaging your customer through the lifecycle, well past the closing of the sale. You’re not treating any relationship as a transaction, because you know it’s a partnership.
This approach will support customer retention by creating advocates for your organization. By maximizing the opportunities your customers can bring—product development, long-term value, referrals, other partnerships—your listening will certainly pay off.
Many may assume that once the deal is done, it’s time to move on to the next one — but that couldn’t be further from the case. On the contrary, a closed deal is when the real work begins.
The opportunity to engage and listen is right there for your organization. If you take the time to show this level of commitment, your product will be better for it. Most importantly, your customers will reciprocate that commitment and help champion your brand.