Tools for Being a Better Listener When Your Customers Aren’t in the Room
Most of the time being a better listener means closing your mouth and not thinking about what you will say next. But the real listening help most small business owners need in today’s business climate is digital.
Why Being a Good Listener is Important
In addition to people feeling more valued when they believe you’re listening to them, being a good listener helps you find sales opportunities, solve customer frustrations before they escalate, learn about your competitor’s customers’ complaints, and build a loyal customer base. Here are some tips on how you can find out what’s being said about you, your business, and the service you provide or product you sell:
Assemble a Toolkit
There are plenty of options when it comes to social media and digital monitoring. They run the gamut on expense as well from free to hundreds of dollars a month for a large enterprise solution. Most small businesses can get by with the free options, at least in the beginning. Upgrading to a paid platform may also provide an integrated dashboard for monitoring but some people prefer to use several free tools instead.
This is an extremely easy way to be alerted when people are talking about any subject you’re interested in. Go to google.com/alerts and enter in a word or phrase you want to monitor. Then decide how often you’d like to be notified, the language, region, and how many results to report on. The results you receive will be sent to a specified email or RSS feed.
At the very least you should set up alerts on the following:
- Company name and variations (set this alert to “as-it-happens”)
- Names of C-suite, owners, or anyone with a highly visible profile within your company (another as-it-happens)
- Industry you serve, product you make, service you provide
- Problems you help with (for instance “flooded kitchen in Alameda”)
- Competitor’s name and variations (as-it-happens)
You can also use alerts to do research on how often someone is talking about a service or product.
If someone is talking about you (without using your handle), you don’t want to run the risk of missing it.
You can also run a manual search under hashtags. Search for your business name, what you do, or something of specific interest like #alamedabookstore. You can also search for your target market like #Alamedamoms. Listening to ocnversations of your taregt market can help you understand their needs better and may give you good ideas for valuable content.
Social Media Listening Tools
There are a lot of social media listening tools available. Which one you choose depends on what social media platforms you participate on and your budget. Popular listening tools include:
- Netbase Social Listening & Analytics
A Final Word About Listening
Listening is critical to your business’ success on social media and beyond. If people are talking about you, and you’re not part of the conversation, you’re missing a sales opportunity and a customer service avenue. Thanks to companies like HP and BestBuy, customers are conditioned to expect faster service from Twitter than a phone call.
If you hear someone talking about something you can help with, offer your expertise, not your business card. Assist them the way you would a friend, not as a salesperson. Look to have a conversation before you try to sell. If you overhear something and force a salesy conversation, it will feel creepy.
When you provide friendly help, the customer will come back when they are ready to buy.