Ask them what they want, then actively listen. What does ‘actively listen’ really mean?
Wikipedia identifies Active listening as a communication technique that is used in counseling, training, and conflict resolution. It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.
It also works extremely well with customers even though Wikipedia left that out. Once in a previous career I sold insurance within a call centre environment. The company I worked for have this amazing on-going training for consultants where actively listening to your customer is what gets you the sale. Of course, you have the mindset of selling something either as an upgrade or cross sale but its the active listening that gives you opportunities to introduce the product. If it is introduced correctly you always got the sale but how do you do this:
- Listen actively to what is being said and what is not being said
- Ask open questions to identify the pain
- Give a solution to the pain
- Highlight an example where the pain solution can be applied
- Close the deal with a statement
Script example of how I used this.
Customer: The traffic is getting worst every day on the motorway to work
Me: I agree, so you drive every day from XYZ to the city which is roughly 35km through horrible traffic?
Customer: Yes, but I am lucky I get parking at the office
Me: You are lucky last time I had to pay $50 for parking in the city but you may not be aware if for any reason you broke down on the motorway to tow your vehicle back to your home would cost you an extra $$$. There is an up-grade that will cover all your towing cost for an extra $$$ pro-rata and $$$ for the full year on renewal but you will potentially save this much on towing fees $$$
Customer: I didn’t know that would happen
Me: Should I use the same credit card to upgrade you immediately and I can arrange to waive waiting periods for XYZ as a bonus.
I think you get where I am going with this one. It’s about knowing your product or system well and listening to your customers to see where you can deliver better value to them. I am assuming as a tester we look at the entire product not only from a testers/technical perspective but also from the business view point. It all goes back to producing robust stable software that meets the business needs but as a tester we need to ensure we understand what the business needs are first. This is where Agile methodology supports the tester to achieve this by including testers from the very beginning of the development journey through to the end.