Every business and marketing team wishes they knew what their customers and potential customers are thinking. You can! In fact, customers are always “telling” you and the world what they think, but it requires listening and reading between the lines (as well as some tech tools like customer relationship management software to make it a little easier!). If you know how to hear what your customers are thinking, you can serve them better, get more customers, make sure they’re happy, and guarantee their loyalty for years.

There are many avenues for listening and for encouraging your customers to share. For starters, when’s the last time you polled your customers? Have you been checking third-party review sites and responding accordingly? From digital word-of-mouth recommendations and warnings to customers telling you what they think by how and when they shop, there’s a gold mine of data out there. Your task is to translate it and put it to good use.

Here are just a few ways to decipher what your customers really think:

• Use Google Alerts—especially for review sites. Leading review sites, like Yelp, are fantastic for reputation management. However, a customer might also mention you in their personal blog or one of the many other review sites available. Set up a Google Alert with your company name, the name of any key employees, and other important words or phrases that people might post about online. A review or in-depth mention requires a professional and timely response. Even if the review is negative, as long as it isn’t slanderous, your reply might help get that customer back or at least show viewers that you’re caring and on top of issues.

• Ask them. Whether it’s a poll on Facebook, a survey you send out to your e-mail list or an in-person comment card for brick-and-mortar establishments, if you ask your customers what they think, they’ll likely tell you! In many cases, offering an anonymous response can help get more verbiage from them, but it runs the slight risk of people intentionally skewing the results. A mixture of anonymous and non-anonymous (perhaps sweetened with a random drawing) will give you the best results.

• Stay on top of your data analytics. No matter which analytics tool(s) you use, make sure you mine that information and translate the findings into actionable strategies. For example, if it seems like a certain demographic spends more on certain items during March, that’s telling you something. If a significant percentage of customers stopped shopping after you ran a particular ad that tells you something else (like that ad wasn’t well received and you need to find out why). Data is only good if you make use of it. How is your data working for you?

• Leverage customer service software. Your customer service software might entail customer relationship management software, marketing automation software, or a blend of the two. Regardless, it’s a means of having a virtual and flawless personal assistant taking care of all the pesky tasks that need to be done but are time consuming and labor intensive. Customer service software takes care of the grunt work for you so you can focus on your customers. It can also gather data that’s telling you what customers are thinking, like why a specific demographic seems to spend more during your autumn sale rather than your spring.

• Build a relationship with them. A person, customer or not, is much more likely to be open if they feel a connection with someone. It’s easier for some businesses to form these relationships, such as small brick-and-mortar establishments, but size or lack of in-person meetings isn’t an excuse. Putting relationship building first will naturally lead to customers being more open.

• Record and listen to your sales calls with customers and prospects. Using an AI-enabled platform that can record and transcribe the calls your sales reps have with existing customers and prospects can reveal a lot about what customers think and their engagement level with your brand. Reading the transcripts also shows what they think of what your sales reps ask and how they respond.

Your customers are what drives your business, and what they think matters. Create a business that encourages open dialogue, and your customers will help lighten your load by telling you exactly what they want.

Author's Bio: 

This article is written by Stephanie