Communicating effectively with your customers is important — really important. Up to 86% of customers highly value their experience when buying a product or service, yet you'd be surprised how many businesses still try and act like faceless entities. In today's market, you need to do more than that, and having a friendly and approachable channel of communication with your customers at all times will have a number of key benefits for your business moving forward.
In this article, we're going to look at why customer communication is so important for your business, as well as a number of key tips to help improve them in every way possible.
Why is customer communication important?
There are loads of reasons why customer communication is hugely important for your business. It's important for both you, and your customers and helps build a compelling relationship that should grow customer loyalty and more. So before we look at the key tips for improving your customer communication experience, let's have a look at the main benefits some of them can bring:
It helps improve the image of your brand
If you present a friendly and approachable customer-facing environment, it'll help build your brand. Especially when compared to other companies in your industry who might not have caught up yet. These days, people are more likely to stay loyal and continue to do business with companies who show a bit of personality and don't just treat them as cash-cows.
If you're willing to let people behind the scenes and show them exactly who you are, what your mission and values mean to you, and how you do what you do, it'll go a long way. And to really create a set of values that is fully aligned with your customers, you need to learn from them, not just talk to them.
That's the key with customer communication – it's a two way street. It isn't just about being able to speak effectively to your customers, it's about being able to hear what they've got to say.
It helps you learn from your customers
When developing new products, or fixing the way you promote your offers it can be really important to have a complete grasp of what your customers are thinking. So reach out to them, listen to what they have to say, and act on the information you learned. You'll then be able to create a range of products or services that are more in-tune with what they really want or need, and come up with better strategies to market them.
It helps solve any issues proactively
When anyone has an issue or problem with your products or services, their first port of call will normally be customer support. But it could also be on social media or via another channel. How quickly, easily and effectively you deal with these issues can have a huge impact on customer loyalty.
If someone feels like their issue wasn't solved, they might be hesitant to work with you again. Especially if they can't really use the product they bought. They'll be highly unlikely to both buy from you again or spread a positive opinion about your business. Actually, they might be far more likely to say something negative about you either on social media or when talking to colleagues in their industry. This can have a huge negative impact on your marketing efforts.
So you need to over-deliver with your customer support options. Learning what's going wrong with your products doesn't just help you fix issues for individual customers, it informs you about where you need to make improvements so the same issues don't keep popping up.
It helps grow your marketing reach
Effective customer communication helps your marketing reach in a number of ways.
Firstly, by communicating your message and offer more clearly, you'll reach more of the sort of customers you want to reach. So little things like finding out where your customers get their information, or how they like being talked to, can go a long way. This sort of information can be vital when it comes to creating a compelling marketing strategy that works for both you and your potential customers.
For some industries email is key, whereas others like to focus more on traditional printed media. Perhaps your niche has a lot of traction on social media and email marketing is uncommon. While the best marketing strategy often makes the most of a variety of different channels, learning about where your customers get their news or are more likely to see your material is very important.
But that's not the only reason a successful customer communication strategy can pay dividends when it comes to marketing reach. If you create more of the sort of content your customers both like and want to share, they'll be doing a huge amount of the marketing legwork for you. Every time someone shares one of your posts online, they're spreading your message to their extended network. Huge marketing reach, at a fraction of the cost.
And when people have positive things to say about your business on review sites and other industry authorities (because you actually listened to what they had to say), it'll help your marketing reach even more. So whether you were proactive in solving an issue they had, or took their ideas on board when updating your products, it all of this helps build your marketing reach.
It improves brand loyalty
All of these factors help improve brand loyalty for a number of reasons. When people know you're a friendly company that listens to their customers and acts on what they have to say, they'll be much more loyal in the long run.
14 ideas to improve your customer communications
1. Be proactive and follow-up
Most people will only get in touch with you if they have an issue or a complaint. That means you're only really learning from people who have had a negative experience. What about those who had a good one, or a so-so one? What about those who liked the product somewhat, but have a few ideas about how it could work better for them?
In an increasingly busy workplace environment, most people won't reach out if they didn't like your product. They'll simply stop using it and you'll never hear from them again.
Always be proactive with your communications. Instead of waiting for people to come to you to tell you what they think: go to them. Send follow up emails or calls a week or so after you sold your product. Ask people how they're getting on, and if there's anything they need help with. This is a hugely effective tool. You'll learn tons more this way, and will be able to retain more customers.
2. Be active on every channel
People like to communicate in a whole host of different ways these days. For some, they love the instant ease of social media, others still like the tried and tested email. Others still prefer to use the phone. If you want to really be there for your customers, and have as complete a communication strategy as possible, you'll need to be active on every channel. From LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter, as well as on the phone, via email, and even via post. Don't ignore any channel, as you could be ignoring a certain type of customer.
3. Show some personality and give valuable content for free
To help communicate your brand and your goals to new audiences, show some personality.Try posting videos to YouTube, show some key tips or offer some other value. People love this sort of content, but they'll also enjoy seeing more of you and your team. This will actually eliminate any barriers they might have had when it comes to reaching out. If they've seen you talk, heard what you have to say and have at least some idea of what you're about, they'll be far more likely to send a message or open up a further line of communication.
4. Make sure your support staff are well-trained, friendly and efficient
All three of these things are hugely important in a modern communication environment. Any technical issue will need solving by someone who knows what they're talking about (fully trained), but someone who's also quick and friendly. These sort of things are a must.
5. Offer 24/7 support
It's no good only fixing problems on a Tuesday afternoon. If you really want to compete as a modern, global business you need 24/7 support options.
6. Use automation
While the personal touch is great, automation can still be an efficient way to solve minor issues. There are chatbots these days that are incredibly convincing. Using automation can help speed up your processes and answer more queries quickly, but you should always make it easy for someone to speak to a real person if they need to. Don't be one of those businesses that pretends their automated chatbot is a real person (most people can spot the difference), or make it difficult for them to click through to a real person.
7. Create personalized account managers
If someone does a lot of business with you, give them a personalized account manager. Someone they can phone directly with any issues they have. This is huge for brand loyalty, and a great personal touch to make your important customers feel valued.
8. Use bespoke offers
Use the right software to collect information about your customers and what they like or don't like. This will help you create personalized offers that are just right for them, and could also help with customer loyalty.
9. Collect feedback
While reaching out to customers individually can go a long way, it isn't really sustainable on a large scale. To get real data on the overall thoughts of a larger base of your customers, make sure you offer feedback forms and with other methods to find out what your customers are thinking. Make sending feedback as simple as possible to reduce barriers to entry.
10. Make sure all communications are two-way
We've already touched on this a number of times in this article. Make sure you listen to customers as well as speak to them. Always make it easy for them to get back in touch. Ask them questions at the end of support tickets or in follow-up emails to make sure everything worked to their satisfaction.
11. Overdeliver on complaints
The only way to turn a potential negative view of your business or products is to overdeliver when something goes wrong. Don't just fix the problem, offer them a discount or reduction in their fees. Send them a free gift or other promotional item. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it can be a big factor in improving your relationships with customers.
12. Measure metrics
When you've got the right data, you’ll need to calculate certain metrics like customer retention rates, customer values and more. All of this can help you see how successful improving your customer relationships have been over time.
13. Don't claim to do things you can't
Some businesses simply try to sell their products or services with unfounded claims to try and appeal to as many people as possible. But this isn't always the best way. Communicate effectively why your products are right for someone, but also why they might not be right for others. Then you'll get customers who are far more likely to be happy with what you gave them.
14. Offer incentives
Some people simply haven't got the time to fill out a feedback form, or they just can't be bothered. Offer a discount coupon for their next purchase as an incentive. This will not only make them more likely to give you the vital info you've been looking for, but also make them more likely to make another purchase with you, it's really win-win.
Hopefully, some of these tips are enough to get you started on supercharging your customer communications strategies. When used together, you'll be building a powerful platform for all of your customer relationships to flourish.