I’ll admit it’s not an easy thing to pick up the phone and have a conversation with a stranger. There is a lot that could go wrong: awkward silences or you call the guy who’s everyone’s best friend and will never get off the phone, or it could turn out to all be a complete waste of time because you weren’t sure what you were looking for in the first place.
The payoff of speaking to your customers is huge! It allows you to gather data that can not be acquired any other way. The conversations reveal your relational keywords. These are the words and phrases that show the relationship your customers have with your product/ company/ brand. These words and phrases become a key that will unlock the door of massive growth, strong community building, brand loyalty, and customer trust. Which, at the end of the day, all translates into more sales, more leads, less churn.
With a clear process in place and preparation beforehand you can ensure you will end up with a powerful document that will change the way you speak about your company, change how to close sales, and help you build communities around your product.
Why You Should Call Your Customers
I hear it often-
“Isn’t there a survey that I can send to all our customers?”
“Can’t I just add a survey link and send it to our list?”
“I’m just going to email everyone.”
“I don’t have the time to call our customers.”
Surveys are wonderful tools that can help automate many things but are not going to help you discover your relational keywords. If you provide a multiple choice survey to all of your customers, you’re going to receive: your words back at you, your own assumptions back at you, and data from many people who are ambivalent about your product.
Spending the time to have conversations with your customers allows you to hear the tone of voice, to notice patterns in the words and phrases they are using, and most importantly to ask follow-up questions.
How To Prepare For Customer Conversations
First, prepare a list of questions. Knowing exactly what to ask next will keep the conversation moving and ensure the conversation is as brief and as helpful as possible.
A few questions to ask:
- Why did you choose our product?
- How were you feeling before you found our product?
- What was your first thought about our product?
- What do you love about our product?
- What annoys you about our product?
- How can we better serve you?
- How are you using our product?
- What’s the most frustrating thing about our product?
- What’s the best thing about our product?
- How often do you use our product?
Second, create a database that will allow you to capture the words and phrases your customers use most. An organized spreadsheet or database ensures that these conversations are not just wasted time or something that is only beneficial to the one person on the phone call. These words become a part of the script used by your entire company.
And I mean your entire company. This document is not just a marketing tool. Every time you speak about your company use the relational keywords, every sales call should use the relational keywords, every copywriter you hire will use the relational keywords.
Third, determine the customers that are your biggest fans and your greatest enemies. One way to achieve this is with an automated survey. You’ll ask your entire customer base/list a few questions to get an idea if they love you, are ambivalent about you, or if they hate your product to its core.
- Do you love our product? yes/no
- Have you shared our product with others? yes/no
- Will you continue using our product? yes/no
Another way to sort through your customers is to put out a call on social media. Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to discover who hates your guts. Simply asking your followers or connections to comment what they hate about your product will reveal a lot of potential customers to call.
We’re looking for the customers that are passionate about your product. The ones that love you will help us find your target audience, the ones that hate you, help us determine who we are not looking to attract. And that’s just as important.
The number of customers you speak with can vary depending on the answers given and the size of your company. You want your initial list to be 30% larger than the number of people you will expect to have final answers from. For example, I usually begin to see a pattern in relational keywords after about 10–15 conversations, so my initial list needs to be approximately 30–45 customers.
Fourth, it’s important to be generous and appreciative of the time your customers are sacrificing to answer your questions. We all know that time is money, so in order for your customers to get on your calendar and devote their time to your cause give them an incentive worth their time.
This can vary, but some good ideas are:
- 25% off next months bill
- A $25 gift card to a local-to-them coffee shop or restaurant
- A $20 dollars in cash sent through the mail
- An upgrade in services for 3–6 months
Determine the incentive that makes the most sense for your company and your customers. If they pay $25,000 a year for your product chances are a 25% discount will be well worth their time, but $20 in cash might not entice them to pick up the phone.
Let the customer know before the phone call exactly how you plan to incentivize them. This is the dangling carrot that motivates them to schedule a call and then to actually follow through in a meaningful way.
Fifth, take the time to call your customers. Clear time in your schedule to speak with your customers and to record relational keywords and phrases into your database. Usually, an hour per customer is enough time to have the conversation and to track your insights.
A nice pro-tip is to record the phone call. This allows you to focus on the conversation and actively listen to your customer, rather than jotting down notes quickly and thinking about moving on to the next question.
Yes, this is an incredible investment in time and money, but the ROI is incredible. You will know exactly what your customers love, hate, and could care less about your product, you will have a database filled with relational keywords and phrases that will attract your ideal target customers like flies to honey, and you will know exactly how to speak about your product on every platform.