The depth and breadth of your customer interactions are a signal of the success of both the relationship and of your business. The key to making them matter is finding ways to discuss challenges and opportunities with ease and regularity.
The process of consistent, effective communication with retailers is no simple feat. Alongside the trepidation some members of your team may feel in raising issues or concerns, there is also the fear that customers become frustrated by communication that feels forced or like wasted time. That’s why we encourage receiving thorough feedback, followed by internal alignment, goal setting, and action planning as the preliminary steps necessary to deepen your customer relationships.
Through Advantage Report, you gain meaningful, applicable insights that will add value to your business relationships with your customers. The following article walks you through how to communicate your findings and plans with your customers in a way that will deepen your relationship.
A step-by-step guide to customer engagement and communication
1. Lead the discussion
The incentive is with you to deepen your customer relationships and show them why it matters to them. With this in mind, you should come to retailer conversations with a clear goal and plan – to better understand their feedback, align on short and long-term goals, and recognize your shared opportunities. Best-in-class companies lead a discussion, while ensuring that their partners feel engaged and listened to throughout.
2. Be gracious and grateful
If your customer has participated in the Advantage Report survey, this is a great indicator of their commitment to your relationship, but don’t take that for granted. Be sure to thank them for the time, effort, and resources they’ve put into providing feedback.
3. Focus on them
Your job is to lead the conversation, not dominate it. Your customer’s feedback, pain points, and goals should be prioritized. Let the feedback they’ve provided be the backbone of the conversation, bringing key themes you’ve spotted with you to frame ideation further. Don’t fall into the trap of challenging the feedback or asking why they ranked you as they did. Remember: Your customers are not ranking your company, but providing an assessment on a one-to-five scale for relative performance to other companies. For a productive conversation, stay focused on themes and feedback, not scores and ranks.
4. Find and discuss Opportunities
Once the scene has been set and you’re in dialogue with your customers, the aim should be to move the conversation toward opportunities to deepen your relationship. The best way to do that is narrowing your focus to a single practice at a time, this gives you two clear benefits: the outcomes are more tangible and actionable, and it provides you with additional opportunities to discuss the feedback with your customer in future sessions regarding other practices.
Example questions for this step to prompt a deeper discussion:
- How can we improve on this practice over the next 12 months?
- Is there a competitor that is doing something that we can learn from?
- Are there any ways in which we can go further to give you an even better experience?
- Are there any other people in your organization we should be discussing improvement opportunities with?
- What does success in our relationship at this practice look like to you over the next year?
- Do you have any other feedback or suggestions for us?
5. Stay objective and speak their language
Step five is a natural extension of step three. Empathy in both priorities and language choice is critical. Social mirroring is a powerful tool in relationship building, so use it as you put yourself in their position and see things from their point of view. Although you have your priorities, viewing their priorities through an objective lens gives you greater clarity and increases the likelihood you’ll see patterns emerge between your goals and theirs. Remember: If you don’t know what their priorities, objectives, or goals are, now is the perfect time to ask!