Embracing Your Most Vocal Customers (And Why to Worry About Silent Ones)

Teresa Becker

Customer Success Strategist

As a CSM, you have relationships with customers of all sorts. But you definitely have (at least) one customer who is very vocal about their experiences. They have a megaphone to their audience and they don’t hesitate to share everything they like, dislike, and want improved about your product, service, support and company.

Do you cringe when you see their name cross your inbox or social media? How about when you see their name on your caller ID? If you’re like many, your immediate reaction is to take a deep breath and to wish it away, or have someone else deal with that person. While it may be difficult at first, there is absolute GOLD in those vocal relationships. Sure, there will be some bad days as a result and maybe even some humiliation, but for those that embrace the vocal customers and learn how to leverage them for their insights and opinions, they find incredible pieces of wisdom.

Why Embrace Your Vocal Customers?

It’s hard. Vocal customers who seem mad at your product and at the world can be very difficult to work with and to hear out – continually. However, as a Customer Success Manager, it’s important to remember that their reactions and criticism may be warranted. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment. What if you had an important task to do and the product you’re using continues stalling? Or what if you can’t get a resolution with support? Or you’re left with no explanation for the bug you keep encountering? All of these things could it be hindering your job or taking away from other priorities. If you were in their shoes, would you be upset?

Vocal customers can be an absolute wealth of knowledge. These vocal customers tend to analyze and nit pick every encounter or product error they have with your company. This information is gold! How many surveys, beta testers, phone calls, and customer panels would it take to uncover all of the nuances they bring to the surface without you having to ask? Often times, vocal customers don’t demand fixes at that very moment. They want to know that you listen, that you care, and that you’re actually doing something with the information they’ve given you. Chances are, if you pay attention and follow-up with them on resolutions, their attitude will not only change for the better, but they’ll start passing along more positive feedback, too.

In a recent Inc. article, the author gives 7 ways to “Turn Your Toughest Customers Into Your Biggest Fans”. Here’s a sneak peek at how you can start today:

  1. Thank your customers for complaining, and mean it
  2. Soothe yourself when customers rant
  3. Take the high road
  4. Get comfortable with conflict
  5. Pivot towards thoughts that inspire excellence
  6. Look for positive qualities in your clients’ negative behavior
  7. Be prepared for service recovery

Why Should a Silent Customer Cause Worry?

While as a Customer Success Manager, you probably appreciate having a few silent customers, they are actually more cause to worry than your most vocal and sometimes brash customers. But why? When your customers are silent, you have no idea what problems they’re encountering, what frustrations they have, or even if they’re using your product in the first place. Silent customers may be pleasant to have throughout the year, but what about when renewal time comes? Do you even know how to address their concerns? Do you know which products or services might be suitable for an up-sell? Chances are, you don’t have any truly valuable information to go off of, so your approach is much more generic and may feel fake if you haven’t built up a strong relationship and haven’t been intentional about the account.

What do you do if your customer is silent? It’s important to always be engaging high and wide across the organization so if one of your points of contact isn’t responsive or leaves the company, you have many others whom you can lean on. In a recent blog post, we give 3 keys to building relationship ROI so that you can be proactive with your customers and not on the defense.

Now what?

A Mashable article says that, “No matter how you interact with unhappy customers, the point is not to brush them off, and make sure you learn from it. Don’t just pretend to listen and then go on doing business as usual. Take the feedback as constructive criticism that can help you determine your company’s future. How you handle your failures could make you or break you.”

As the article states so clearly, listen to your customers and continually interact with them. If your customer is vocal, be grateful that they are opening up to you as these are the customers that likely want your company to succeed and believe in what you’re doing. They’re pushing you to be better. On the contrary, if your customer is silent, you need to listen to them in other ways and build relationships across the entire organization so that you’re playing offense – not defense. Often times if your customers are silent, they are apathetic towards your company and product, making them the most dangerous kind of customer you can have.


 

eBooks:

5 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Blog Posts:

The Golden Rule of Customer Success: 8 Guiding Principles

6 Listening Techniques of Great Customer Success Leaders

Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong Customer Success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.

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