Taking on feedback from customers can help small businesses in all manner of ways. We spoke to Paul Roberts of MyCustomerLens – a startup that drives customer-led growth for its clients – about how companies can use social media to listen to their customers and help scale their business.

There's a customer revolution going on. Away from your business, you may even be part of it. Empowered consumers are making ever-more informed decisions. More feedback is being shared in more places than ever before. Consumer needs are changing and they expect to be heard.

It doesn't matter if your products don't get sold alongside Amazon reviews. It doesn't matter if there isn't a TripAdvisor for your industry. Consumers no longer think in silos. They compare the speed of your processes with one-click ordering on Amazon. They judge your variety and personalisation against Netflix’s home page. They discuss the results of these comparisons on social media.

The good news is that it's easier than ever to track these discussions. And being proactive about customer listening will help grow your business.

Five reasons to start listening to customers today:

  • Improve customer acquisition. New customers can tell you why they chose you, who else they considered and what problems they need you to solve. These insights can help you improve your sales targeting and marketing effectiveness.
  • Improve customer engagement. We live in a world where consumers want to share and expect businesses to be listening. If they don't think you're paying enough attention, they'll go elsewhere.
  • Improve customer retention. Repeat customers are much more profitable, so don’t take them for granted. Customer listening helps you identify why they become raving fans or vocal critics.
  • Keep your finger on the pulse. Consumer expectations are being influenced by every product and service they use. History books are full of companies that assumed customer needs wouldn't change.
  • Keep everyone on the same page. Great things happen when your employees are all 'singing from the same hymn sheet'. This alignment comes from a business-wide approach to understanding customers.

Once upon a time, a happy customer might tell 10 friends about a remarkable experience. Now they can tell thousands. Twitter has become the go-to place to canvas opinions and get faster customer service. Online reviews are being written for most products and services. Right now, somewhere online consumers are discussing your brand in public. Do you know what they're saying?

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