3 reasons why listening to customers makes you a better marketer

Customer feedback has been widely discussed over the past few years, but how might it shape the roles of marketers?

There are more ways than ever to listen to what your customers think and want, and it makes sense to use them to improve how you do business, says Chip Rodgers, CMO at WorkSpan…

From two decades of experience in marketing roles, I know that listening to customers is critical to your success as a marketer. Without this insight, you’re flying blind. Just think of the flopped launch of McDonald’s Arch Deluxe burger. It was designed for ‘upscale’ consumers, but in the end, no one cared for the extra-fancy ketchup.

Lucky for marketers, today there are no end of ways to tap into how people experience your product or service. Surveys, reviews, your website or app, direct support interactions, or social media are all ways to learn more about the needs of your customers, and therefore your target buyers. No matter which method you use, here’s why active listening is vital for marketing and business success.

1) It adds credibility to campaigns while boosting loyalty 

Listening to customers provides the ‘social proof’ you need to attract future customers. We recently asked customers: what impact has working with us had for you? Respondents could then tick the box on which key benefits they’re experiencing. After that, a tool we use by SurveyMonkey generates a pie or bar chart with the responses. From there, we can scope the most interesting bits to use as key content pieces in slide decks, social media posts, or campaigns. In a quick scan, users and potential customers can see why they might like to work with us, directly from someone who’s using and getting value from the product themselves.

In marketing, you have to be relevant to your target audience, and most of the time, relevance means asking rather than telling. Traditional case studies can be dry and cumbersome for both parties. The process we’ve adopted allows us to be more agile. A study by Sprout Social found that brands send a total of 23 messages for every one customer response. It’s time to give your customers a voice. Customer quotes can be great fodder for press releases. Rather than a perspective from an analyst or third-party, this is a powerful first-hand account. It's a strong way to instil prospective customers' confidence in your offering and turn customers into advocates. Don’t underestimate timely listening rather than another (possibly tone-deaf) promotion.

2) It keeps you data-driven, and for the right reasons

Data comes in many forms, but it all comes down to being willing to ask the hard questions and to listen. Why has our net promoter score (NPS) decreased by 8% this quarter? Why is our customer satisfaction score (CSAT) particularly high year-over-year? These quantitative metrics show you which customers had a better experience with your product. Combined with qualitative metrics, you also get to the ‘why.’ It could be that you have a rockstar on the support team, or that you helped a customer achieve a certain return on investment for their business. By listening to customers, you know where to rinse and repeat, and not to mention – you have a story to spotlight.

In the case of low scores; it’s especially important to listen closely. It could be a matter of pointing customers to the right resources to address their needs or adding new functionalities to your offering. By identifying where you fell short, you can make adjustments to relevant areas of your product, service or marketing approach. For example, we have a process of having our Customer Success team reach out personally any time we receive a negative review to understand more deeply what challenge the customer had with our product. There’s no faster way to improve your products and services than by using data and the human story behind it to know what gaps you have.

3) It leads to faster sales cycles and less hassle for your prospects

Stories are memorable, and they’re also what people want to hear. This is especially important for sales enablement, where one relevant use case can seal the deal for a potential buyer. Even before this, there are many phases in a sales cycle where customer stories can come in handy. It starts from the moment sales reps are prospecting leads up to the initial contact. No one likes to join a call where the person on the other end is so far disconnected from their challenges. If a prospect decides to take the meeting, they likely need your help and fast. Stories help sales reps build rapport and stay as close as possible to understanding prospects’ challenges. 

As a marketing team, we fill our internal content library with stories. This serves as a searchable repository, organised by industry, size, and other custom tags. This way it's easy for sales and marketing to find the right content quickly. Strong use cases inform your AEs how your offering works in action. With this background on hand, teams can act with speed, while personalising conversations with potential customers.

Listening to customers might not fit into your daily repertoire right now, and that’s okay. But with so many ways today to hear them out, don’t underestimate the power of timely listening. Through all the noise, it just might be your secret weapon.