Customer communication has always been a critical component of business success.
Today, more than ever before, customers expect more from the brands they choose and tend to favor those that respond to their needs and address their challenges quickly and efficiently.
To ensure you can meet those high standards, you must have the capability to communicate on multiple platforms and touchpoints—essentially, wherever your customer is, that’s where you need to be. Anything less, and you risk losing business to a competitor.
Successful companies prioritize excellence and consistency in customer communication. They leverage technology to nurture relationships, build trust, and encourage loyalty. Strong, transparent communications have taken on even greater importance during the pandemic, underscoring a need for a centralized customer communications system.
For growth companies or organizations working with distributed or remote teams, the right technology supports communication workflows, streamlining, and simplifying processes while helping you communicate with your audience at scale.
What is Customer Communication?
Customer communication in 2021 is multi-layered. Communication technology is ubiquitous, but it encompasses many different approaches, including telephone, email, SMS, instant messaging apps, and live chat.
Brands communicate with customers for many different reasons. It could be for customer service or marketing, to issue alerts or recalls, account notifications, payment reminders, appointment notifications, to inform on policy changes, and the list goes on.
To meet customer expectations, companies must meet their audience on their preferred platforms and offer various ways to connect. In doing so, consistency is a primary concern, which means responding in a way that matches a brand’s look, feel, voice, and tone.
Why is Communicating with Customers Important?
When we think of customer communications, customer service is usually the first thing that springs to mind. However, many other departments need to communicate with customers from time to time.
For example, support may need to relay information on outages or scheduled downtime. Accounting might send payment notifications, reminders, or confirmations. Marketing and sales communicate with customers regularly through various means, customer service responds to queries and complaints, and customer success helps new customers maximize value from their purchases.
Each of these departments has a distinct focus. As such, they each leverage highly specific language and ways in which they deliver their message—and everything needs to tie back into the tone and personality of the brand at large.
In this respect, accessibility and consistency are critical, as they put the customer’s mind at ease, giving them a sense of comfort and familiarity. People tend to prefer to do business with brands that prioritize customer communication. Getting it right is critical, as it could mean the difference between keeping a loyal customer and losing them to the competition.
How to Improve Customer Communication
There are many ways for companies to improve customer communication. Here, we’ve highlighted 12 actionable tips you can use to elevate your outreach and delight your audience.
1. Be Human
We all use technology to communicate, and it’s essential to communicate with customers. However, there are some things technology just can’t do. Yes, your chatbot can answer many customer queries—but it’s never going to be able to satisfy every single one.
Ensure there is always an option to speak to a human behind every automated system. Prioritize the human element, and you’ll always have your bases covered. Audit your outgoing scripts to ensure they align with your tone and sound natural.
2. Be Authentic
You’ve put a lot of thought and work into your branding. You have a specific tone and message you want to convey, and it’s vital to stay true to that concept. When every outgoing message or piece of content ties back into that tone, it strengthens your brand, reinforces what you stand for, and conveys authenticity.
Creating scripts for your customer service reps or templates to help them respond to complaints and common queries ensures you never stray from your ideals. Scripted responses might sound a little inauthentic, but they ensure the initial communication is positive, upbeat, and true to the brand.
Today’s customers want a highly personalized and frictionless experience, but it goes beyond simply addressing them by name in a marketing email.
Omnichannel communication supports personalization as it allows your associates to view a customer’s buying and support history and address their problems from a place of authority.
When customer information is democratized throughout the organization, communication is streamlined through every department. A customer can reach out and be transferred to the right support people who can seamlessly pick up where the previous associate left off.
4. Meet Them Where They Are
Some customers prefer to call on the phone and speak to a live agent. Some want live chat, while others prefer social or instant messaging — you get the idea. Meeting customers on their own terms is critical. Otherwise, people become frustrated or feel excluded.
Providing a variety of ways to connect also shows that you understand your customer’s preferences and are willing to go the extra mile to put them at ease. The fewer steps involved to getting the desired result, the happier and more loyal your customers will be.
5. Use Templates
Templates are a way for your teams to streamline communications and deliver a consistent, on-brand experience every time.
Templates also help your teams as they reduce the time involved with preparing outgoing messages. The result is that you can get information where it’s going faster and more reliably than would be possible otherwise.
Companies use templates for newsletters, emails, texts, sales funnels, support, and so much more. Your customer communication platform centralizes template creation and ensures all stakeholders have the tools they need to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.
Common customer queries can be automated to enable immediate response. Chatbots are excellent ways to do this, as simple questions can be answered quickly without overburdening the help desk. Automation also allows customers to get the answers they need at a convenient time, whether it’s day or night, weekends, holidays, or just outside of standard customer service hours.
Automation in customer communications helps human associates focus on more complex interactions and deliver more value for their time. Automated responses are also reliable and consistent, improving the customer experience while helping to boost customer loyalty and retention.
7. Create Useful Content
While you might not immediately think of your content as part of your communication strategy, it is very much a part of your outreach. From blogs to case studies, white papers, social posts, newsletters, landing pages, and more, your content is an opportunity to provide value that speaks directly to your audience and their concerns.
Content ideas can include tip sheets, how-to’s, checklists, Q&A, seasonal reminders, fun anecdotes, before and after galleries, deep dives into your top product or service, or topics your customers ask about all the time.
What you choose to offer should make sense to your industry. Look to the data you collect from your online properties and CRM to gauge interests and trends. You might also look at what content performed well in the past or what your competition is doing that’s hitting the mark.
8. Make it a Two-Way Conversation
Two-way dialogue is vital to any meaningful customer relationship. Fostering solid connections is all about engagement, and there are many ways to encourage it.
Social media is a great way to conduct two-way conversations, but you can also encourage customers to respond to your outreach. Make it easy for them to do so, and they’ll know the lines of communication are open to them. It’s a way for you to build rapport, gauge the success of your initiatives, and find out your audience’s biggest concerns.
9. Ask for Feedback
Soliciting customer feedback is a great way to make your products and services better. It’s also a path to innovation, as you’ll have direct knowledge of what matters most to the people you’re selling to.
There are many ways to ask for feedback. Social media is excellent, as are contextual (in-app) surveys, feedback forms, and comment boxes on your website. When your customers feel like they have a voice in your decisions, they are far more likely to become loyal customers over the long term.
10. Be Proactive
Proactive communication is helpful and effective. It shows you’re thinking about your customers and that you care about their happiness where the brand is concerned.
Proactive messaging also reduces the pressure on your help and support teams. For example, you might send out a message about planned maintenance or downtime so your customers know in advance and can plan for potential disruption.
During the pandemic, we saw a lot of closures and businesses pivoting operations. Letting customers know what to expect in advance reduces anxiety and lets them know you have their best interests at heart.
Essentially, if you can get ahead of issues before they become problems, they’ll always know you have their back—that’s what proactive communication is all about.
11. Follow Up
Whether you’re speaking to customers about a service issue, a transaction, a return, or a charge reversal, following up is a great way to show you care. Customers care what happens during a transaction, but they also care about what happens after.
Depending on the situation, you can even automate your follow-ups. Sometimes it’s as simple as sending out an email after a product has been delivered to find out how you did. Other cases, such as complex service issues, might warrant a more direct touch, like a phone call. A follow-up closes the loop on a transaction and ensures you didn’t miss an opportunity to delight.
12. Choose the Right Technology
Customer communications can be complicated to manage, but the right technology means you’ll always be on top of it. WayPath works with companies of all sizes to design and customize customer communications management systems that address every need.
The right system helps you leverage today’s most exciting communications technology while simplifying its management. It’s a way to deliver best-in-class customer service and build loyalty while ensuring a consistent, on-brand message through every touchpoint.
To learn more about WayPath customer communication management solutions and how we can help you improve communication with customers, get in touch today.