Speak with a human voice
Published February 22, 2007 by Gillian Hunter
When did you last have a conversation with your customers? A meaningful proper dialogue? About them and not about you? Engaging customers in conversation should be an integral part of the business strategy.
Why conversations are important to business? It helps you understand your customers' points of view You can talk about things that matter to the customer It builds trust, confidence and loyalty You can align your business with your customers It reduces the risk of losing customers It can help you build a stronger business
Start meaningful conversations with customers on your website, or through other communications media - if you haven't had the face-to-face conversations first. Meaningful conversations start when you can really talk with your customers, understand them, engage them and make them central to your existence. And, don't be scared of criticism or complaints. In fact, you should welcome negative feedback. It will help you to resolve issues, keep your customer with you and build the relationship and your business.
Meet with your customers In this age of internet, email and the telephone, it is easy to overlook the face-to-face meeting. There is nothing more powerful than a meeting with your customer.
Invest time in getting to know your customers Arrange a meeting as often as appropriate for your market Have a purpose for the meeting - such as checking they are happy with the product or service Speak to the people who use your product or service and ask them searching questions Show you genuinely care about their business - take an interest beyond what you're trying to sell Take action - follow up queries, complaints or requests for information quickly
Listen to your customers You need to really listen to what your customers have to say, and really understand what they're saying and not saying.
Take notes or keep a record of conversations Feedback your understanding Ask questions if you don't understand Ask questions of the right people Take interest in people as individuals Speak with a human voice To paraphrase Cluetrain, we need to learn to speak with a human voice. As businesses, we will only sound human if we empower humans to speak on our behalf. We need to stop cranking our sterile happytalk. It insults the intelligence!
Find out who really has the genuine knowledge in your business Get your customers to speak to them - using all communications channels Make sure you sound open, natural and uncontrived Find your real voice - it helps people recognise who you are.
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