Remember those things your grandma and grandpa used to always say? Treat others as you would like to be treated, a smile goes a long way, the customer is always right. This type of approach to business got lost over the past decades as technology and automation continued to rise.
Fortunately personalization is making a comeback, as is a focus on what happens “after the close.” We need to look at the sales cycle from start to finish, and understand that the relationship is not transactional. Once the buyer becomes your customer, you need to put all of your energy into building and growing that relationship into a partnership.
Because another thing grandma and grandpa used to say was this: If you’re going to do something, do it right. This is how listening to your customer can lead to a better experience, and create lasting advocates for your organization.
Open Your Doors to Your Customer
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.
The thing is, if you don’t encourage reviews, one bad review in a sea of few or none will definitely drag down your rating on these sites. But if you have plenty of positive reviews and one bad apple? Your high average will remain intact.
“83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising.” – Nielsen
It’s a well-known statistic that people trust people over brands. Since reviews are your livelihood as a software company, 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 Customer’s 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 customer 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. We always focus on the positive, but we also find out where improvements can be made or gaps can be filled from the feedback our customers provide.
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.
In the tech age, as companies grow quickly, there is so much emphasis on closing the deal. We assume in our fast-moving culture that when the deal is done, it’s time to move on to the next one. But our work is far from done—it’s really just getting started.
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.