One of the most common problems I come across with clients is how they communicate with their customers. Too often they talk at them, rather than to them. They try to convince potential customers that they should do business with them because of their credentials or experience. Instead they should be trying to put their customer first and asking how they can help them instead.
If you were to go on a date and spend your time listing your credentials (income, number times you work out, the car you drive etc) it would only get you so far. Sure, being fit, earning a good wage and having a good car is attractive, but if you were to start the date over and instead spent time finding out about what was important to the person you were on the date with and talking about what you could do together in the future, you'd develop a deeper connection that is far more attractive than someone's income, how often they work out or what car they drive.
Have a two way conversation, not a one way monologue.
Too often companies are monologuing (especially through their website copy and social media output) like some sort of Bond villain. A good conversation is a two way communication, not a one way monologue and as we all know, any meaningful conversation starts with listening.
If you want to have a meaningful conversation with your customers, you need to start putting their needs ahead of your own. They will start to open up if they feel that you care and are listening. You will need them to open up if you want them to become a customer, because they need to know they can trust you to help them.
Dig a little deeper.
Of course there is a straightforward need to buy what you are offering, but behind every need to buy your services is a deeper, more emotional need or struggle that they need help with. This is the real reason that they take action and they are actively looking for someone who has empathy and authority to help them overcome this, so they can achieve a happy ending for their story.
How you can do this in your business.
Show your customers you care and that you are listening. One of the most powerful ways to do this is by responding to comments you receive on social media and I don't just mean some of the comments, I mean EVERY comment.
This is hard. It's time consuming and you have to always be checking in and not every comment warrants a response, but by replying to every one, you are building trust. Fans watching and reading will see that you care and you are actually paying attention and reading what they reply.
Too many brands rely on some sort of automated, scheduled system like Hootsuite or Buffer to post pre-written content for them, which I understand, but once someone replies to a robotic post and nobody responds, they disconnect from that brand and begin to lose trust in them and their messages.
The bond is damaged and it's hard to repair that and build that trust again, especially if the post has gone out during a national tragedy
But if you are one of the few brands that does make the effort, you will stand out because the temptation to rely on scheduling is huge. They key is to reply in full as other will come by later and read the exchange, which is particularly true with one of my favourite things to do, Q&A.
The silver bullet of Customer Conversation: the Q&A
Having an in depth Question and Answer session is gold. It strengthens the reputation of your brand because:
- It show that you care about your customers.
- It gives you a platform to demonstrate your knowledge
- It builds trust so that if you ever want to survey your audience and ask for help or feedback, they will give it to you in spades.
What they need vs what you think they need
Building that trust through replies and Q&A's really pays off when you need to know about your brand, industry or product. It's expensive and time consuming conducting research groups, but if you nurture your audience, they'll happily give you feedback to any question you care to ask.
I often come across business owners who are convinced that they know what their customers need, but when they take the time to find out, are nearly always proven wrong. Once they tell you what they are struggling with or why they love your brand, you can not only start to create products and services to deal with this, but you can also add this language to the copy used in your marketing and on your website.
Your message becomes more powerful and really resonates with them as you are using the same language as your customers / fans and are relating to genuine emotions that they are feeling. This comes back to my first point on making the effort to listen to your customers and talk to them in a way that resonates by putting their needs ahead of your own.
You need to start having meaningful conversations and listening to your customers because they not only do they appreciate being heard, but they will tell valuable information about you and your business that will help you shape and refine all of your messaging so it resonates even deeper.