How To Connect With The Customers?

How To Connect With The Customers?

Fully understand your customers with the right approach.

A major responsibility of a Customer Success Manager is to understand the customers. You must know how to put yourself in their shoes and view a problem through their eyes. However, it is easier said than done. When talking to the customers to fully grasp their situation, what should you do, and when is the best time to speak and listen?

Practical CSM’s CEO, Rick Adams, shared tips on connecting with the customers and understanding them. To form a good relationship with the customers, you should create a meaningful discussion. Delving into their needs, concerns, and goals – one must know how to assess the customer’s perception by asking the right questions. Here are:

3 Tips on Asking the Right Questions

1. Set a Goal

“Begin with the end in mind.”  Stephen R. Covey, Author, 1932-2012

As to any action, you should form a goal- a direction. In questions, we call these consultative questioning. It probes into the extent of knowledge a person possesses. These questions allow a Customer Success Manager to assess the customer’s perception of their current condition. A goal should have a:

  • Quality (what is it?)
  • Quantity (how many?); and
  • Deadline (when should it be attained?

2. Build an Environment that Fosters Exchange of Information

Now that the purpose has been identified, the set should be prepared. A tense environment would force your customers to refuse to answer your questions. It is essential that they feel safe, heard, and their views are necessary. To do so, active listening skills and social prompts should be used during the conversation. Read on to learn more about active listening.

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

An open-ended question would allow the customers to think about what to say and construct their answers. This would result in a well-thought-out response that is more likely to have all the necessary information. Once they have shared their ideas, you can ask follow-up questions that make them feel listened to.

By following those three easy steps in asking questions, you would find the answers you are looking for. However, utilizing them while not listening would result in failed communication, leading to customer dissatisfaction. Hence, active listening is vital in forming a positive relationship with customers. But, what is active listening, and how can you use it?

Active Listening: What and How to do it?

Hearing and listening are two very different things. Imagine being in a room with your windows open, you can hear the birds chirp, the rustle of the leaves, and sometimes- dogs barking. Listening is when you converse with a person and proactively understand what they are saying. In that situation, you can hear them talk and the words being said, but with listening, you can understand the meaning of those words and how it impacts them.

Let’s say a person told you, “I am tired.” What comes first into your mind? Are you concerned about their well-being, or would you respond nonchalantly?

Hearing the person say “I am tired” may get your attention and look at them. You may even respond; I see or OK. But when you listen to a person saying, “I am tired,” you are bound to ask them if they are feeling well or need help. Because them stating what they are feeling may mean that they are asking for some consideration or support, which you can do for them.

“Active Listening is Proactive and Evident.”

When we say Active Listening is PROACTIVE, we mean that it needs effort. It can’t just be random noises and nitpicking words. It requires you to:

Take your time to focus on the person talking,

Put your attention to the conversation. Do not use your phone, play with your fingers, or look around. Focus on them and what they are saying, as listening to only a few words won’t help you reach the conclusion they wanted to share. Or even if you do, it is plain rude, which can negatively affect your relationship with them.

Comprehend their statement, and

Think about the reason they have shared the information with you. What do they want you to see, and what do they expect you to do?

Understand their statement’s meaning.

Listen to them and ask clarifying questions or restate how you understood them. This will show that you have listened and will also provide an opportunity to clear up misunderstandings.

Aside from being proactive, active listening is also EVIDENT. Meaning – it can be observed by others. This is where body language and social prompts are vital. Here’s how you can show that you are actively listening while being proactive.

Focus: Body Language

Focus can be evident with your body language. One common technique is mirroring the person you are talking to. Leaning forward shows your interest and maintaining eye contact indicates that you listen to what they are saying.

Be mindful of cultural differences. When used properly, a person can feel comfortable and share information even without being asked. However, cultural differences exist, and specific actions that may be normal can be rude to other cultures. For example, Japanese people tend to nod and maintain brief eye contact when speaking to them. It is important to remember that nodding doesn’t indicate understanding, and quick eye contact doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk to you.

Do the research and be aware of these differences before meeting them. Doing so will surely make the conversation peaceful, and they will feel respected – all to gain, nothing to lose, when building good customer relationships.

Comprehension: Asking probing questions

Probing questions encourage the other person to answer in more detail. Trying to comprehend their statement means understanding all aspects of what and why they said it. You can ask them questions like, “what do you think would be the best approach for your problem?” or you may offer a solution and ask their opinion about it. Probing questions provides you the opportunity to see what the customer expects from you, the product, and the company. It makes it evident to the customers that you want to learn more about them and their opinion.

Understanding: Clarifying questions and Restatement

If there’s anything that you can’t fully understand, asking clarifying questions makes it evident that you wish to delve into it more. It shows them that you are interested and is exerting your effort to grasp their situation. Once you believe that both of you have reached a conclusion, you may restate their statement in your own words, indicating your understanding of the conversation.

Fully understanding your customers takes immense effort but will surely bring good results. By proactively, evidently, and actively listening, fostering a good customer relationship is an attainable goal.