At Advantage, helping businesses be better together is what drives us every day. In our efforts to help suppliers work more effectively with retailers, we see ourselves as the bridge between listening and responding.
And it’s an important bridge. A study by the University of Missouri found that people spend a staggering 70-80% of their waking hours communicating in some form, whether at work or at home, and 45% of that time is spent simply listening (compared with 30% speaking time, with the rest split across reading and writing). The importance of listening is what drives the success of our services, whether it be Advantage Report or an Advantage Custom Solution. The most effective responses and valuable actions come from those who have listened first.
With over 30 years of experience helping suppliers listen and respond to their customers, we’ve built up an expertise that has proven time and time again to help drive success in B2B relationships and ensure that those relationships remain meaningful in the long term. The key to driving long-term success against your customer feedback, is adopting the behaviours and actions that foster an organization-wide customer engagement culture. Follow these four steps carefully to ensure success in your customer relationships.
Step One: Sharing the Results Internally
Before you can jump into creating a plan for implementing feedback, it’s critical that everyone, from individual contributors all the way up to the c-suite and VPs, understands how you’re currently performing. This empowers the entire organization with the knowledge and freedom to discuss not only how the relationship is going, but also how they can impact positive change in the future.
Honest sharing also gives individuals and teams the opportunity to celebrate successes and view negative or challenging feedback as an opportunity for growth.
Step Two: Goal Setting and Action Planning
With everyone aligned on what’s working and what’s not, goal setting and action planning will help align your organization on how to tackle challenges and drive further successes. The aim, achieved through a series of sessions and tactics, is to define organization-wide and team-specific priorities.
Doing this across the organization provides a wide range of people with the opportunity to share best practices and approaches, as well as set aside time for regular intervals of review.
Step Three: Engaging and Communicating with your Customer
At Advantage, we believe that even taking action should include more listening. Retailers shouldn’t feel as if any changes to the relationship are happening to them, it should feel as if you’re working together with them to instigate meaningful change. Survey results help ensure that feedback is built on perspectives from across the organization, not simply from the narrow viewpoint of a few senior stakeholders.
Finding ways to remain objective and speak your customer’s language is crucial for driving initiatives forward and highlighting that their feedback and opinion is valued.
Step Four: Preparing for the Next Wave of Customer Feedback
Listening, when done properly, never truly stops. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions that can be switched on to promise you a smooth relationship forever. Actioning feedback should be an iterative process, where you keep a close ear out for earlier successes and failures so you can pivot early and impactfully.
It’s important to remember that customer feedback is based on both facts and perception. People do business with people. The more you engage your customers in the process, the more likely they are to give you candid, actionable feedback. Collaboration creates opportunities for growth and is simply a more enjoyable way to work.