We're ignoring the Black Friday chaos here on the blog today and talking about a much calmer American tradition - the National Day of Listening.   Held the day after Thanksgiving since 2008, the day aims to bring people together through telling the stories of their lives. StoryCorps, a Not For Profit Organization whose mission is to provide all Americans with an opportunity to tell, record and preserve the stories of their lives, created the day to encourage participants to interview a loved one, friend or member of their community and share the interview on the dedicated website.

Young woman with a hearing disorder or hearing loss cupping her hand behind her ear with her head turned aside to try and amplify and channel the available sound to her ear drum

So we're not largely American here at Bucks Biz, and yesterday was a normal Thursday in the UK (although give us a wave if you are American - Happy Thanksgiving!!) but reminding people to listen to each other still seems like a pretty good idea. Reading about this special day gave us an idea - how would our businesses be impacted, if we spent regular time actually listening to our customers?

I imagine we all think we listen to our customers don't we?  but do we really listen?   G2 Learn lists these 5 benefits to really listening to our customers:

1. Build a relationship with your customers

When a customer comes to you with some sort of a problem, your job as a customer service agent is to get to the point of their issue.

You can do that by asking questions, listening and trying to understand their needs. This kind of approach, instead of talking and insisting on the one resolution that you think is the best, will benefit for you. Once a customer feels that they can depend on you, they will become loyal. This is where your initial marketing spend pays off, with a strong customer lifetime value.

2. Get feedback you can act on

Customer service feedback can be a great source of learning. Especially when it comes from customers who are not happy with your product. They can give you an insight that will allow you to fill the gap between their expectations and what a company is able to deliver.

Just don’t send them surveys that contains tons of questions. Learn how to get feedback from customers in the first place. The best way to get true feedback is with customer reviews.

Read customer reviews to understand what your customers want, then reply  to show you are listening. This will show both current and potential customers that you are listening, and want to support their needs.

3.  Increase sales

There’s a big difference between a salesman and customer service rep who listens instead of just talking and selling. When you ask questions and focus on listening to the customers’ answers, you get to the bottom of their needs. This allows you to provide the solution that is right for them, not just the one that you want to sell.

You also put customers at the first place, which they can feel and it makes them more likely to purchase from you.

In addition to listening to customers, sales can use content customers write about the brand to close more deals. For examples, sales reps use reviews to increase sales and close more deals thanks to the trust and credibility they provide.

4.  Gain new customers

Regular customers spread the word of mouth about good experience they got from your company. They are more likely to talk about it using social media.

Invest in tools that will notify you whenever a discussion about your company occurs. You can also look for discussions by using hashtags. Join the conversations and let customers know that you appreciate their opinion.

5.  Avoid crisis

It may happen that you will not always get a good word of mouth. By monitoring your social media and customer review platforms you can react just in time to avoid crisis. Set up notifications from your Twitter and LinkedIn. Check your Google+ and Facebook few times a day. Read messages from your customers, whether on social media or a review platform, and respond to their comments under your posts.

By being available to your customers on a short notice, you increase their comfort and trust in you. As the result, they can rest assure knowing that they can rely on you.

Bonus Effect

There are many benefits of listening to your customers. But the most important is the strong relationship you create with them. When you listen to customers, you learn about their problems and pain points that need to be solved. You are also strengthening the bond of trust and that’s the most important part of any relationship.