At the heart of every successful business lies a singular, fundamental element: good customer communication. Engaging your consumers is everything. Each touchpoint, from social media marketing to customer service calls, represents an opportunity to build relationships with your audience which have the potential to make or break a company. Healthy connections between patron and merchant are mutually beneficial, offering a trustworthy material resource to the customer, and allowing the business in question to grow, expand, and succeed. [Read more: Customer Service Phone Scripts]
As we all know, communication is complicated. Not least of all when your relationship is primarily transactional, with little to no face-to-face interaction. And if not planned for, strategized, and carefully worked around, these complications can lead to failure, the cost of which is felt by businesses in tangible ways.
Customer communication isn’t always easy, but this fact doesn’t make it insurmountable, either. In this article, we’ll outline some key habits to form, mistakes to avoid, and methods to employ in order to get your customer communications right.
Customer Communication: Do’s, Don’ts, and Strategies
Here are a few customer communication tips to get you started.
Customer Communication DO’s:
- Set the tone. Your company has a style guide for everything else, including web content, marketing, brand, etc., and communication should be no different. Especially when interacting with customers, whatever the message, your “voice” should be consistent, accessible, and kind (we’ve seen it described as ‘parental.’) A consistent language helps to provide a dependable customer experience every time a consumer gets in touch with you, and also sets a standard for your public-facing employees, helping them navigate interactions with patrons of all vocabularies and moods.
- Be prepared. You know your product better than anyone, but customers can throw you through a loop with some of the questions they might bring to light. And if you’re operating an e-commerce business, there are a million third-parties and go-betweens which might be affecting a customer’s experience: so their question might be beyond your realm of expertise. Customers feel encouraged to return to a business if they feel that their questions are being answered by knowledgeable representatives, so do your homework, and get ready to answer even the most bizarre customer inquiries.
- Exercise empathy. When problems arise, people can get frustrated. And you have no idea what other issues customers are dealing with in their lives when they get in touch with you. And if it’s bad news on your end, that information has the potential to sour anyone’s mood. But employing empathetic language and truly making an effort to meet your consumer in any emotional state can still make an unpleasant situation into a good customer service interaction. Customers sometimes just want to feel heard, and doing so is a small step you can take that will work wonders for both the customer and your business. [Read more: Empathy Exercises]
Customer Communication DON’Ts:
- Make false promises. It can be tempting to always, always tell your customers the best version of the story; what they want to hear, that everything will be just fine, that their problem is really a non-issue. But making guarantees you can’t actually keep builds mistrust between your company and its customers, and can be harmful to future business interactions. Giving your customers bad news might be painful, but is sometimes necessary. Honesty is the best policy, and your consumers will thank you for yours.
- Use inaccessible language. Your expertise can be a huge asset to customer communications if wielded correctly. But it also has the potential to confuse and alienate your consumers. One issue that can arise is the over-reliance on technical or industry-specific vocabulary: unless your consumers are in the same industry at the same level as you, they probably won’t know what you’re talking about. Another potential problem is unintentional ambiguity; you might choose to leave a piece of information out of the conversation because it seems obvious to you, and unknowingly leave gaps in the customer’s understanding. Make sure to use common language whenever possible, and encourage the consumer to ask as many questions as they need.
- Make it difficult to contact you. Getting in touch with your service representatives should be the easiest thing in the world, and should be accessible to all of your potential customers. Some small businesses have only one or two contact methods for customers to follow, but one email address and a native contact sheet aren’t always workable for every consumer you might have. In addition, hidden points of contact or communications with no receipt or response are discouraging, and imply that you’d rather not hear from your patrons. So give your audience an easy and obvious way to get through to you, and don’t leave them hanging.
Customer Communication Strategies to Follow:
- Get feedback. Hopefully you’re using a multitude of metrics to analyze the successes and shortfalls of your customer communications. But one of the best ways to understand what’s working and what isn’t is to ask consumers. And it’s easy to do: you can send them a quick email survey after your conversation, place one right after checkout on your website, or even post a feedback request on your social media pages. Customer feedback is an invaluable asset to any business. And your interest in their honest evaluation has the added bonus of demonstrating that you value what they have to say.
- Use Gladly! Customers love to feel like they have your undivided attention during any interaction: they want to know that they are important, as an individual, to your company. And with Gladly, they will! Gladly is an omnichannel customer support solution dedicated to making customer service radically personal by making each customer communication about the customer, and not just another ticket. Available to your customer service representatives is a dashboard featuring an individual consumer’s lifetime information with your company, so they never have to repeat themselves, and you can anticipate their needs the moment they contact you, no matter how. It also makes things easier for your reps, by having every mode of contact available and organized in one place. [Learn more: Customer Service Software]
Last Thoughts: Customer Communication
It doesn’t have to be hard! Communication is just part of life, and customer communication is just part of good business. Each customer interaction is an opportunity for you to build and maintain a long lasting relationship with a loyal audience: good communication strategies are worth investing in.