Listen to your customer and learn….

Customer loyalty is that even when things do go wrong, and you keep listening to your customer and you do your utmost to solve the issue, the customer forgives, forgets and comes back’. This is what marine suppliers tell me when I ask whether they have loyal customers and what loyalty means in this industry.

I probably can write a whole post about customer loyalty drivers in the marine industry and maybe I will some time, but the thing I want to highlight here now is the importance of LISTENING to your customer.

In a technical, complex industry such as the maritime industry, it is hardly impossible to never make mistakes. It is all about how you solve these mistakes.

When ship owners invest in new vessels and upgrades they are dealing with huge investments. The consequences of these buying decisions will follow them for the next 30 to 40 years. Real entrepreneurs often take calculated risks, but these are still risks.

In this series of articles and posts I am writing about tips and tricks that help maritime suppliers to be more successful at supporting shipowners during the business cycle  by letting customers feel they are not alone with these risks. You are there to prevent risks from happening and to support when sometimes unavoidable things do happen. This lifecycle selling and support is no rocket science, just common sense. However it is good to get reminded now and then.

Don’t assume

Often in business (and day to day life) we fall into the trap of assuming we know what the other thinks and we forget to ask them and listen.

Listening is for all

Listening is important at every touchpoint you have with your customer and should not be limited to Sales people. It is as relevant for your back office and your management.

Listening through all channels

Listening takes place through several channels and not just in personal conversations. You can also get valuable input and feedback through social listening (engaging through social media), your website, your Voice of the Customer System, etc.

Cost of not-listening

Often the question is what does listening to customers cost. Better ask yourself what is the cost of not listening. A lot of quality issues and inefficiencies can enter into your business processes and misunderstandings start to decay your customer relationship.

When your customers feel they are not heard, you risk that customers:

  • become more price sensitive
  • become less loyal
  • buy less
  • stop recommending you to others (no more free PR)
  • stop giving feedback on how you can improve
  • less willing to co-create new products and services with you

Several studies in the field of customer experience show that businesses could lose as much as 20% of revenues as a result of a poor customer experience. Next to revenue loss there are hidden costs, such as:

  • Higher cost for acquisition (for sure you have heard about the fact that acquiring a new customer cost 7 times more than keeping an existing customer).
  • Negotiations get tougher and these meetings longer.
  • Disbelief in your marketing content and brand, because there exists a gap between what you want your customers to believe your company does and what they actually experience.

Therefore my advice for this time (and you probably got it by now) is: Listen to your customer and have an open attitude. You will be surprised what you will learn.

Continuous listening to customers will not only provide you input for your next deal but is also a great source for innovations! I hope it goes without saying, that listening to what your customers want from you only pays off when you act upon it.

I end this article with a video from Sesame Street, where you can see what not listening to your customer can do…..

I work in the maritime industry and therefore write about my experience in this industry. However I am convinced that what applies for this industry also goes for other technology driven sectors where products and customers have long cycles.

As a Certified Customer Experience Professional I am happy to help you to improve your customer’s experience. It is my specialization to listen to customers and turn their input and feedback into valuable insights, improvements and innovations for your business.
I help you to turn your challenges into opportunities for your business or confirm you are doing great!


Posted on 2019 jun 14.