Listening for loyalty: Win consideration and avoid churn

Ted McKenna

March 15, 2019

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So far in our Listening Enterprise series, we have mostly outlined assumptions that “listening” organizations avoid. Our last marker is the opposite – or perhaps the lone exception, depending on how you look at it – about the one abiding assumption nearly all of the best “listening” organizations make: the status quo is always untenable. With listening for loyalty... We believe that's just not true.It’s ironic to rely on one assumption as a way to upend others. But what listening teams strive for is growth. There’s an expression that speaks to this usage of status quo as inspiration for change. It’s one my former colleagues and I came across while researching some of the best Challenger sales organizations. The saying goes: "in order to win consensus on change, you must demonstrate the pain of same is greater than the pain of change."Tethr’s experience with the best listening teams spins that phrase a bit: same IS pain. Assume there is pain - sometimes even in victory - and search for it.What does searching for pain, whether voiced by a customer or rep, look like? Observing many listening organizations reveals three big differences in how they search versus telling organizations.

Listening for loyalty: Silence matters

What is happening when nothing is happening? Consider the following scenario: a rep finds a way to convert a sale. But the customer sounded hesitant all the way through and, though they did buy, the size of purchase is 50 percent of what it could have been.How should one interpret the situation? An offer was accepted, the sale was completed and the rep gets commission. A telling organization likely banks the win and moves on, content to land a customer in hopes of future expansion. A listening organization, however, is listening in part for what didn’t happen and not just what did. Why was the deal size lower than expected? What caused the hesitation? What might this mean in terms of our ability to convert future customers or expand this one?In another situation, perhaps a customer fills out a post-call survey reporting a middling NPS score – not very high, but also not very low. But further examination of the data shows the customer stayed loyal and six months later even purchased additional products.A telling organization likely banks the loyalty and excuses away the middling NPS score. A listening organization is more likely to dig back into that initial call to understand what the customer said without saying it.In both scenarios, what listening teams recognize is consideration is inferior to amplification.

Listen beyond the interaction

It is human nature to focus only on what we can control. In a service or sales organization, it’s easy to get caught up in analyzing what happened entirely through the lens directly in front of you. What can be done to help that rep improve? How can we help that specific customer who just hung up?But searching for pain also requires searching laterally, often beyond what is explicitly mentioned. For example, Tethr helped a company in the home services industry analyze thousands of calls over a given timeframe. They were facing a high rate of cancelations from relatively new customers.Our first step was to examine the cancelation calls themselves. Here, customers said things like:"It’s not what I wanted.”“I don’t think I need all of that.""It's just too expensive.”After connecting those situations back to the original sales conversation, it was immediately clear those same customers voiced plenty of price-based hesitation. Telling organizations would likely see such a connection and conclude reps were too aggressive in continuing to sell. But this Tethr customer – a true listening organization - recognized the real, long-term fix was not something they directly controlled but nonetheless would continue to face. Root-causing the hesitation surfaced a more nuanced situation. Customers were actually confused about a pricing plan with too much variation and too many options. Only after sharing that insight with the product team – and working together to land at a plan clear for reps and customers alike – did this company reduce early cancelations in a sustainable way.

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Listen in a far-sighted manner

More than ever before, the perceived quality of the customer experience is influenced by experiences we don’t control.We live in an omni-channel world where – in one single day – a customer might interact with a company’s email marketing message, chat with a bot, speak to a customer service agent and purchase a bundle of goods on the website. That same customer may flip over to three other tabs – maybe their bank to check funds, Amazon to compare prices and Yelp to read reviews – before hopping back to the original site. You’re a consumer products company but your customers now compare your experience – side by side, – with banks, tech companies, startup apps and anything else just a click away.Comparison shopping is free, near frictionless (count the number of “free trial” emails you get over the course of a month) and only a click away.Customer experience management is an ongoing process. Searching for pain results in boxing out competitors and customers so loyal they never even consider looking at your bill much less that enticing free trialLearn more about how Tethr helps companies start on the road to listening for loyalty today.

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