Collaborate With Customers to Unlock Sustainable Growth

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Look up “collaboration” in the dictionary, and the definition will be clear enough: “working together to achieve a goal.” In business, that goal is growth, and leaders have long been looking for ways to improve team collaboration to get there. When digital options like FaceTime and Google Hangouts started making it easier for families to stay connected, company owners realized they could do the same for employees. Since the pandemic, these options have exploded, and it suddenly seems as if everyone is focused on collaboration, but almost no one is tapping into the huge potential created. A new form of collaboration is looming, allowing companies to work on a dimensional scale with players at the core of their success: customers.

Stuck in the world of colleagues and teams (maybe extending to other partners or companies) Most people who incorporate collaboration these days miss out on the major benefits of doing so with clients…but not for long. As more of our daily lives move online, companies are realizing the inherent advantages of connectivity and leaving those who hesitate to dust. In the coming years, new products and services based on customer engagement and more active interaction will be the norm.

room for improvement

Collaboration should be a two-way street, yet most points of contact between a company and its customers remain missed opportunities. The first contact is likely to be from the marketing team (airport signs, TV ads or highway side billboards), usually devoid of any cooperation. Few of these codes offer scannable QR codes that take you directly to a representative. If they do, customers and prospects can more easily provide input at that exact moment, giving you data that can improve their overall experience and attract more people to your company.

The next person likely to encounter a customer is a sales person. They actively communicate and might offer incentives like freebies to stay on a 20-minute call, but all their talk is focused on selling, and then they’re gone. Finally, when a customer has already paid and is communicating with the customer support team and the company’s success, trying to talk to a real person is often like working out a fix. In both structures, company employees speak to customer or in a Customer, but rarely with customer, and these are missed opportunities for feedback that can expand a business in every dimension.

Related: 3 ways you can let your customers’ stories express your brand

Know where it grows

Two-way communication with customers provides specific, measurable data about the direction they want to see your business go. Imagine trying a new coffee shop: An employee might tell you about the launch of a new holiday flavor, but that’s a one-way conversation. A collaborative approach might be to ask what kinds of holiday flavors you want Before holiday season, or request feedback on current options, and then return this information to the team for improvements. Either way, seeking input from customers leads to better sales and greater loyalty.

In order to grow, you need to play up the game of satisfying customers right away and keep coming up with new products or services, and the best way to do both is to collaborate with the people who buy them. Customers want to be heard, not just dropping opinions into some dusty suggestion box. When I give feedback on a product, I usually reach out to the company’s Twitter or Facebook pages, because I know I’m more likely to find a human who will listen. Listening to customer feedback not only makes customers feel more satisfied, but it makes it easier to identify the products and services they will buy and recommend them to others.

The pioneers have already started

Sure, industry leaders are waking up to customer collaboration, but mostly they’re still at the starting point. When I was working at Symphony, an infrastructure and technology platform, I saw how many people in wealth management struggle to maintain contact with clients. They were mainly able to meet only in person (or via email) because other digital methods were considered unsafe, which is why banks had to contact us for solutions.

And we might be in square one, but oddly enough, nobody’s talking about getting to 100 yet. Most people are still kind of waiting – a point in the customer journey that makes collaboration possible, but there’s nothing. The truth is that even before customers start researching what you’re selling, you can make a decision to start synergizing with them. Teens, for example, may not need your product yet, but you can encourage them to provide feedback when they need to. Therefore, cooperate from this first impression throughout their lives, so that they continue to enhance your reputation through public reviews and promotions. Treat your customers as teammates who drive growth, and you can outperform even industry giants who are still slow to take action.

Related: Why Organizations Should Take a Customer First Approach During Unprecedented Times

Tech tools make it easier than ever

To access all of your collaborative touch points, find digital tools that make it easier and more affordable. Facebook Messenger, Intercom, Yelp – Customers can even leave messages through the Google My Business landing page. For small businesses that have little time to spend analyzing feedback across many applications, companies like GoSite offer all-in-one platforms that help them better manage the process, including providing quick answers to customer questions as well as feedback. The result is a more efficient user experience, increased satisfaction and increased revenue.

The digital world has the power to enhance customer collaboration with personalized touches – perhaps a greeting asking how much you liked your last cup of coffee and/or how it could have been better. To get the most out of it, the two-way cooperation road needs to be open all the time, and customers need to know all the ways to access it. Whether it’s a coffee shop, laundromat, or bank, every business will need a person or enterprise SaaS responsible for doing this. Enthusiastic about this discourse, clients can start to take on larger roles such as influencers and affiliates, and tomorrow’s business structure is more likely to include entire teams of clients.

Related: 5 digital solutions to help get your business off the ground

Online, in-store, and in mixed ways – and across the entire spectrum of businesses – the goal should be global collaboration with every customer, past, present and future. Stop thinking only of shareholders, investors, CEOs, and employees: Your customers are important business partners who actually contribute time and money to your growth. Include them in your plans and support the people who support you, because that’s where the future is headed.

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