10 ways to consistently ace customer communication
Over the years, we have seen an explosion of different communication channels. With this rise, the real challenge lies in choosing the right communication that suits your business. It is also important to look out for emerging trends in customer communication and start adapting to them.
As businesses scale, it becomes even more challenging to be able to communicate effectively with every customer. To survive in this competitive market, one critical factor is enhanced customer communication.
What is customer communication?
Customer communication is communication with your customers through several different ways, from email marketing to presenting an electronic bill. It is generally all the communication that takes place on behalf of the company to its customers. Keeping your customers happy is the most basic requirement of any business. As easy as it may sound, there are several things to be aware of when communicating with your customers.
What is customer communication management?
Customer communication management, or CCM, is the strategy by which a company manages the creation, execution and delivery of its customer communications. This is usually done by integrating the various tools used to communicate with customers, and offering a single view to every customer-facing team, including sales, marketing, and customer service.
With effective customer communication management, you can align your messaging, and ensure relevant and consistent communication irrespective of the channel.
How does CCM differ from CRM?
Customer Relationship Management manages the interactions and relationships between the business and its customers and falls into the broader category of CRM. Here are a few ways they are different.
Why is customer communication important?
Here are four functions where having an effective customer communication plan is critical to business growth.
- Sales: Customer communication offers you opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling. By suggesting similar products or upgrades on their purchase you can drive sales. Salespeople who actively seek out and exploit referrals earn 4 to 5 times more than those who don’t.
- Customer Loyalty: Good communication with your customers gains trust and makes them want to choose your service over others. This builds customer loyalty for your business. 80% of the customers have also gained customer loyalty due to exceptional customer support, products, reviews, advice, etc.
- Brand Awareness: When you communicate clearly with your customers, they will remember your brand and talk about it. A customer’s word-of-mouth recommendation is your biggest brand promotion. 74% of the customers also agree that word of mouth plays a key role in purchasing decisions.
- Support: Communication is what your customer support is built of. Good customer communication will create a positive experience and will keep them coming back for more. Retaining current customers is 6 to 7 times less costly than acquiring new ones
10 steps for effective customer service communication
1. Provide support on multiple channels
With the different types of customer service channels or communication methods available, it is essential to offer support via multiple channels. Your customer base consists of different customers and each will have a preferred channel for customer support. However, it is also important that you provide consistent support across different channels. The best way to do this is through omnichannel support. This way, your team can access a single view of all conversations with the same customer.
2. Offer personalized communication
No one likes being treated like they are just another customer. Customers want to know that you really care about them. Beginning your customer conversations with at least the customer’s name and a warm greeting creates a good impression and makes them feel valued.
3. Target the right customers
Audience targeting is now made easy with the help of certain digital marketing tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook business page insights to equip you with the right data to target the right customers. Similarly, by looking at the data in your CCM or CRM, you should be able to segment your customer base and target personalized messages to each customer group.
4. Set expectations
Customers often hang up or exit live chat if it takes too long to connect to an agent. The reason customers reach out on phone or live chat support is to get immediate responses. But if you keep them holding for long, it doesn’t serve its purpose. Customers only wait for a few minutes and so make sure you respond to your customers at the earliest. If there is going to be a delay, it is important to communicate the wait time to your customers. This can be done either with an automated answering system or chatbots. Also, when the call gets connected greet them and apologize for the long wait time or thank them for staying on the call or online. This will create a pleasant customer experience.
5. Keep your customers updated
Customers hate waiting. However, they hate it even more, when they don’t hear from you at all or are unable to track the status of their issue. The responsibility of a customer service representative is to solve the issues and queries of your customers. But if it is something out of your hand, clearly explain it to your customers. Don’t give your word that you will solve it no matter what and then say it can’t be done. This will have an impact on your brand image and customer loyalty.
6. Use a conversational tone of voice
There is a rule in customer communication to keep your answers short and simple. However, answering customer questions with one-word answers like “yes”, or “no”, halts the conversation and closes the door for further opportunities in sales, brand awareness, lead generation, and customer engagement.
For example, when a customer asks “Do you have the size S of this t-shirt?”. You can respond by saying “Yes. It is available and there are also 3 other color options for the same t-shirt if you would like to take a look
7. Be patient and calm
You will come across different types of customers every day. Some may be polite while some may be difficult. Regardless of customer behavior, you need to stay calm and collected. Customers may reach out to you in confusion or anger or frustration because of a miscommunication or they weren’t able to find information easily. By being patient, you can not only solve the issue faster, but you will also be able to concentrate on the finer details of the issue.
8. Proactively reach out to your customers
Traditionally, customers reach out to companies to get their issues sorted. However, with the right solution in place, you can reach out to customers proactively and help them even before they reach out to you. For instance, if a customer adds items to their basket and does not complete their purchase, you can proactively reach out to them and urge them to complete the purchase.
9. Employ up-selling and cross-selling
Customer communication provides opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling. Since there is a pre-existing relationship with the customer, you can personalize recommendations based on their past purchases. When a customer shops for a product, you can describe a few additional features or also similar products which could be useful for them. If the suggestions and features attract your customers, they will keep coming back for more.
10. Actively listen and never interrupt
A common mistake most agents make is they listen to provide a solution or solve the query. But there is more to it. First, listen to understand than to provide a response. If you don’t understand the issue, you won’t be able to give a complete solution to the customers. You might also miss out on a few details making the customers repeat the issue again because you weren’t paying attention at the first. Also, when a customer is explaining an issue, never interrupt them. Even if you know the solution upfront, wait for your customers to finish before providing the solution.
Essential customer communication tools
If you are feeling overwhelmed with all the dos and don’ts of customer communication, don’t be. Here are a few tools and software that could help you enhance your customer communications.
- Email Software: Email is a popular channel for customer support. By integrating your email software with CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) you can leverage your customer data and send follow-up emails to the right customers and also access all the communication with a single customer in a single window.
- Call center software: Phone support is a traditional customer support option but it is another option that allows live interaction. It’s advisable to invest in a cloud-based call center software to offer seamless phone support.
- Live Chat Software: 41% of customers prefer live chat over other support options. Having live chat software in place will help you initiate conversations with your customers and also generate leads and sales.
- Chatbot software: Chatbots allow 24/7 support availability without having to scale your team. Deploy an AI-powered chatbot to your live chat to bring down your first response time and can also solve all the common queries from your customers.
- Messaging Software: With Whatsapp Business, Apple Business Chat, Telegram, Messenger, and more, you can easily reach out to your customers on the messaging platform that they use and love. With a helpdesk and messaging app integration, you can offer consistent customer support.
- Customer survey and review software: Sending out surveys to your customers shows that you care for their feedback and is also a way to facilitate communication from your side to the customers. This will also help you evaluate your CSAT score (Customer Satisfaction Score). Apart from collecting reviews, respond to them by thanking your customers for their positive reviews and apologize and solve the issues for the negative ones.
- Online communities and forums: Online communities and forums are the best way to reach and communicate with your target audience. Your customers can use this space to share reviews and tips, and thereby build brand loyal
- Helpdesk Software: A helpdesk software can be your one-stop software incorporated with all the above tools. It can organize your incoming tickets and streamline your support process. Investing in a good omnichannel helpdesk software will help you deliver a consistent customer experience.
Good communication will create a good experience for your customers. This will encourage them to choose your service and refer your business or company to others. The success of your customer service is to make your communication more customer-driven. Equip your support teams with the right software and tools, so they have better insights about the customers.
Visit FirstMidwest.com to find more ways to improve your small business.
This article was written by Aysha Shereen from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.