In late 2015, the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) surveyed 100 executives on the buying factors that mattered most to customers and how manufacturers came through for those buyers.
The survey showed that the top-performing manufacturing companies tended to shine in two areas:
- Customer listening, which includes voice of the customer, grasping unspoken needs and establishing what customers will pay to have their needs met.
- Customer experience, which means creating value through the lifecycle of a product through things such as training, service and guaranteed uptime.
The term “voice of the customer” really applies to both those areas, as it refers to the process of determining a customer’s likes, dislikes and expectations.
Here are a few ways you can listen to what your customers have to say:
Even though they don’t give you a chance to interact with customers, surveys can still be invaluable, allowing you to learn what you’re doing well, and what needs to be fixed.
Ask questions such as “How was your overall experience?” “Were you able to complete your interaction as intended?” and “If so, what was the most positive part of doing business with us? If not, why?”
In reporting on voice of the customer, Business Insider tells the story of a travel-package website that found – using a survey – that customers were having a tough time recalling the details of their packages when it came time to book.
Thanks to this feedback, the company added a “book now!” call to action button next to all its packages, and saw its conversion rate double. This CTA (Call To Action) has since become the standard for the industry.
2. Focus Groups
Surveys can you give you a lot of good data, but a focus group – getting your best customers together to talk about your business – can provide even more in-depth insights. A survey can tell you who and what, while a focus group can give you the “hows” and “whys.”
And thanks to the digital age, companies are able to conduct focus groups remotely, without having to worry about the cost of gathering a bunch of people to as single location.
3. Social Media
This is a point we’ve made many times in the past: Your social media presence should be about more than just telling the world what’s happening with your business.
It allows you to have a conversation with your customers, and also to hear what they’re saying, either about your company, your competition or about trends in your industry. Following social media can tell you what you’re doing wrong, but also lets you see what people are excited about.
The same Business Insider piece quotes Southwest Airlines media specialist Christi Day, who argues that social media seems designed to get the pulse of your customers. “It’s like having a focus group at your fingertips, 24/7,” Day says.
4. Email and Web Forms
It’s important to know what your customers are thinking, whether they love what you do or had a bad experience with your business.
Make it easy for customers to contact you, with a place on your website where people can submit feedback or get in touch with you. The Business Insider article recommends designing this feedback button so it’s more heartfelt than just “Give us feedback.”
Giving them a more human sounding slogan – “Tell us what you think,” or “Yell at us” – shows that you want to know what’s on their minds.
IQnection prides itself on helping manufacturers better understand and reach their customers. We know – as you do – that your customers are conducting a lot of research online, and have made most of their decision to buy before ever speaking to a sales rep.
That’s why it’s important to create interesting, valuable content that helps solve their problems and nurtures your visitors, keeping them engaged with your company until they are ready to become customers.
We can help you create that content. We’re here and ready to listen.