BIZTALK: Listen to your customers
Naomi Simson joins Northern Star as a guest columnist for our latest series, Business Class.
What is the most valuable commodity in the world? I'll give you a few hints. We all have a finite amount of it. We cannot manufacture, imagine or mine any more of it. There is a limited amount we get to use each day, and each lifetime.
As business owners your most valuable resource is time, and more precisely, how you choose to spend it. You can focus on your inbox, or that seemingly never-ending to-do list in front of you. Or you can choose to focus on the important - the strategic things that will propel your business forward, instead of having you tread water.
But when your head is down and busy doing, it's hard to look up and shift into seeing. How do you identify the one thing that you should be working on? The thing that when you do it, everything else will become easier.
I have found the more time I take to understand the 'job I am being hired to do' by my customers, the better equipped I am to make decisions on their behalf. Setting up listening posts or reviewing feedback is a good place to start.
However, equally important is spending time with those people in your business who are working directly with customers - day in, day out. The customer experience team or perhaps sales or service people often hold the keys to understanding what makes your customer tick (and what ticks them off).
The Big Red Group (BRG), of which RedBalloon is a part, operates in the experience economy - where customers not only expect a great product or service, but a world-class interaction with the brand too.
It has never been more important the to respect a customer's time and the attention they give to your brand when they choose to interact with you. Customers vote with their feet and it is our job to make every interaction frictionless.
Have you set up some listening posts to understand what stops customers from fully engaging with you? Do you know why your customers love you? Or what they loathe about you...
I keep a keen eye on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of each of BRG business and the customer feedback we gather both quantitatively and qualitatively.
These numbers give me clear insight as a business leader that we are getting it 'right' more often than not. It allows me to ask with confidence, "Is our intention, vision and aspiration to be completely customer-focused working?".
The reality is that we don't get it right every time - we're in business and as we know, nothing is ever perfect.
And what I have found to be key is looking at the good reviews, as well as the bad - to ensure my insights are balanced. When I look back, I consider how over the years we have implemented various listening posts to keep our businesses informed at the customer level. Reading every review (good and bad) was one tactic I used very early on - I would often give the customer a quick call to understand the context of their review.
Not only did they feel validated and listened to - building an emotional connection to the brand - but I too found to be tremendously beneficial.
It's amazing how you can surprise and delight a customer simply by picking up the phone. Many people I know who fill in online review forms think that no one but search engines are reading them.
How simple is it to call someone, ask for clarification and then acknowledge them for the time it has taken them to contribute to helping you improve your service. Customers are the future of every business, and when they become advocates they can become your greatest source of growth opportunities. Understanding and celebrating customers is where more business leaders need to spend more time and effort.
An entrepreneur and business leader; Naomi Simson co-founded the Big Red Group in 2017. BRG is all about serving experiences to different audiences through its various brands: RedBalloon, Adrenaline, Redii.com. BRG serves an experience every minute as the third largest experience marketplace of its type in the world. In this series we present some of her key learnings on how she grew her businesses.