At tech companies, sales and customer experience teams have an advantage—they’re talking to customers every day of the week.
Customer conversations are part of the job, but tech leaders are now recognizing that it’s important for everyone at the company to pick up the phone.“
Customer needs and wants continuously change over time, says Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software. With more than a decade of experience in the tech industry, she understands that developing business planning software starts with the customer. “Your company’s product might be on target right now, but don’t get too comfortable.”
Sabrina urges anyone involved in product development to talk to customers daily. One-on-one conversations, focus groups, surveys—the best way to start the conversation is up to you. Sabrina says that by having these conversations every day, you can get a better understanding of your customer’s mindset.
“Once you’ve taken the time to understand your customers better, reevaluate your product,” says Sabrina in this article. “Maybe it’s time to make a few small changes to stay ahead of your customer demand.”
Sabrina also recommends that executives make several calls a day. “We jump in and answer customer calls and emails.”
“By interacting with customers on a service level, we learn firsthand about problems as well as understand customer concerns and objections to buying our products.”
Sabrina says these calls impact their company’s strategy across teams, particularly in marketing, sales and customer experience.
Kristin Zhivago, a B2B marketing strategy consultant, agrees that marketing teams should talk to customers daily.
“It’s the cheapest form of research a company can conduct,” says Kristin. “It gives marketers the one thing that they never have enough of: Confidence. They often know the right thing to do—or think they know—but don’t have the proof to back it up.”
Kristin recommends calling at least two customers a week to ask open-ended questions, then sharing these findings with the company on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.
“Doing this one simple thing can consistently change the entire dynamic of marketing in large and smaller companies.”
“Conduct web tours interviews by phone,” she suggests. “Start at the homepage and ask them to go through the site as they normally do, and encourage them to tell you what they’re thinking as they do.”
By recording this conversation and capturing key screenshots, Kristin says that you collect the data you need to improve your website from the best source: Your customers.
Phone calls aren’t the only way to connect with your customers. Many of your buyers are on social media – and also expect you to be there.
According to a Bain & Company survey, customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money with those companies than other customers. They also demonstrate a deeper emotional commitment to the company.
CEO Wendy Lea of Get Satisfaction, a customer engagement platform, recommends listening to conversations on social media, particularly those customers who converse with companies online.
“Customer engagement is no longer a series of one-off experiences—it’s an ongoing dialogue,” says Wendy. “Companies need to be good listeners in the digital age.”
Wendy says that companies can jump into these conversations on social media in a genuine way, from answering questions and solving problems to hearing ideas and supporting them.
“Foster trust and form relationships through open, honest interactions over time. This creates positive experiences and outcomes for your customers.”
While it’s important to talk to customers daily, Sabrina advises not to make large changes over one call.
“Don’t make extreme pivots that will take your business off track,” she says. “Make sure you’re still able to focus on your core offerings that make your business successful.”