And lest we think that “being heard” only matters in retail, here’s an example from FullStory, a B2B software-as-a-service business. Over the summer, I wrote about an effort
to improve the way we were escalating issues to the product team and how we would write to customers if we weren’t able to fix their issue right away:
We have an OKR [Objectives and Key Results] this quarter on the support engineering team to improve our escalations to the product team. As part of this work, we want to get better at our communication with customers about issues that are painful (for them) but really hard to fix (for us).
Around that time, one of our customers was getting really frustrated because of a missing feature in our new mobile apps product. Not having features is nothing new, but the problem here was that before the sale, a product manager had given assurance that this particular feature was available. So when the customer purchased and finally got around to implementing FullStory, they were justifiably disappointed that this feature was missing.
Even though we handled the situation as best as we could—we tried communicating clearly that we didn’t have the resources to prioritize adding this feature—it just wasn’t getting through, to the point where the customer reached out to the original salesperson asking if there was anything that could be done.
Finally (and way too late), I got on a call. This was mostly an opportunity for the customer to share their disappointment and for me to listen. I also shared a bit more about what was going on behind the scenes and my commitment to provide a clear timeline moving forward.
To be honest, the timeline wasn’t even something I would get all that excited about, but my periodic updates to set expectations must have worked. This was the customer satisfaction survey we received:
Ben is one of the best customer support advocates I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my 20+ years of software experience.
I’m not sharing this to toot my own horn. This is all basic Customer Service 101 stuff, but when you have a customer that feels like they’re in the dark and nobody is listening to them, just being heard can completely turn the situation around.