The Art of Listening to Your Customers

Once upon a time, customers of a small business had basically three avenues to communicate with the business. They could call on the phone, write a letter (especially when they weren’t local), or stop in. If someone wanted to say something bad about the business, basically the only avenue was dissing the business with the local Better Business Bureau.

Ah, those days were so relatively simple for a business when it came to interacting with its customers.

Fast-forward to today and it’s the art of noise! Customers want dialogue with the businesses they patronize. And they want that dialogue to be timely and attentive. Plus, whatever they think of you they can now put out there for everyone to see across the web.

The line between customer service and business promotion is blurring, and most every channel such as Facebook that you can use to talk about or promote your business/practice can be turned around to where the customers can talk about you. So, here are a few tips to make sure you’re listening to your customers and using these interactions to actually boost your business.

Don’t give it cursory interest

Someone on your office staff needs to be in charge of monitoring your social media sites and your website (if it has any chat functionality). That person needs to respond to comments, questions, and anything that’s happening.

Facebook recently created a number of new tools to make it easier for the page manager to interact with customers, giving the manager more and more background information. Now, the page manager can see past conversations in Messenger, for instance. Plus, the page manager can set response times and automated responses, so customers know what to expect. All of these new tools have the express purpose of using your Facebook page for most of your client interaction that happens outside the office.

But dedication is the key, day in and day out. Today’s customers, especially of service businesses such as most MyAdvice clients, expect good service online as well as in the office. If someone posts a question about the scarring from a tummy tuck, that question needs to be answered in a timely fashion with the full attention of the page manager. Doing so can make the patient/potential patient much more loyal, feeling as if your practice really cares about her as an individual.

Keep an eye on the reviews

It once was that customers of plastic surgeons kept all of it to themselves; there was a stigma attached to “getting something done.” No longer. Customers now openly discuss procedures, and that includes review sites such as Yelp and RealSelf.

Your practice needs to pay attention to these sites. You need to be watching the numbers, seeing what people are saying about issues such as bedside manner and the outcomes of procedures, and you need to respond to complaints where possible. This give and take will tell your customers you care about what they say and are willing to address any issues. It tells them your practice is interested in a long-term relationship, not simply making money from the next procedure.

Encourage conversations

When your patients make comments about your practice, they expect you to pay attention. And drawing them out can be key to understanding what went wrong and what you’ll need to do to fix it next time around. Look for ways to develop this back and forth with your customers either on your site, email, and Facebook or other social media.

Make sure it’s not just lip service

Once a customer does establish that conversation, your practice needs to make sure the problem or complaint is addressed. There is no quicker way to make a patient an ex-patient (who is very enthusiastic about her “ex”-ness and willing to share her views about it) than to ignore a complaint. And this can’t happen sometime down the road. A study by Zendesk in 2015 found that 69% of customers attributed a good customer service experience to the quick resolution of their problem.

Bottom line with all of this? Simply pay attention. Today’s social media environment makes customer interaction a big part of the success of any business/practice. As long as you have staff members that are engaged with customers, you can use these interactions to promote the reputation of your practice without it feeling the least bit “promotional.”

For questions or comments about any of these customer service issues and what your practice needs to be doing about them, contact your MyAdvice representative.

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