Billionaire businessman Richard Branson terms communication as the most critical ability every leader should have. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re expected to lead your customers satisfyingly. This is where customer communications management (CCM) comes in. CCM revolves around consistently and effectively interacting with your regular shoppers to improve their experience with the goal to retain them for good. (1)
Luckily, CCM isn’t rocket science; you can quickly perfect it if you’re determined to. Here are seven best practices to master customer communications management.
1. Take advantage of technology
Communication and technological advancement has always been at par. In that sense, the emergence of mobile and internet services in the last century has pushed forward communication standards to exceptionally high levels. As such, you’d want to use the latest technology in communications management rather than sticking to older systems of communication. (2)
Of late, automation is fast becoming a norm for all forms of business. You understand that today’s customers expect prompt responses whenever they make inquiries, yet it’s humanly impossible, or rather challenging, to cater to customers’ needs round the clock.
What you can do is have a piece of software that can understand customers’ messages and instantly communicate to them without your involvement. For instance, if you’re in a field services business, Jobber’s software for landscapers can help you with appointment scheduling and sending various notifications to customers when you’re busy handling other aspects of your business.
2. Personalize your messages
Personalization is about ensuring that your clients feel their preferences and needs are being addressed. You want to start by always addressing your customers using their first names. This instantaneously sets up a good rapport with the customer and makes them feel good about their experience with you. Doing so also establishes an emotional connection that leads to sales. (3)
Furthermore, get to know their geographical location, demographics, and purchasing history. Such seemingly tiny details help you understand the customer at a deeper level. Thus, when talking to them, you can address their concerns better than you’d have done without any idea of who you’re talking to.
3. Use appropriate communication channels
Don’t make the mistake of sticking to the communication channels that are convenient for you. You want to be customer-centric and adopt the channels that your clients prefer. Even if you don’t like them, it’s advisable to go out of your way for the sake of the customer. As you already know, the customer is king, hence they should be treated as one.
Research indicates that 42% of Americans prefer phone calls for customer service. Digital channels, such as social media platforms, come second at 38%. Interestingly, email comes last at 20%. Consider these trends in your own business to resolve customers’ concerns and for general customer engagement.
4. Track customer communication metrics
As you keep communicating with your clients, it’s also vital to measure some key communication metrics so that you can evaluate your performance over time and identify any areas you might need to improve. These include:
- First response time: Knowing the average time it takes to respond to customers’ queries helps you improve your response time even further until it lines up with your goals.
- Average resolution time: Similarly, knowing the average time you take to resolve problems helps you work towards speeding up your resolution process to meet predefined and desired resolution times.
- Customer satisfaction metric: At the end of every conversation with a customer, you want to ask them to rate your services on a scale of one to five. Compiling such feedback from numerous customers helps you know whether or not you’re being helpful.
5. Adopt a proactive approach
When a customer is expecting a response from you, don’t wait until they call you to deliver your response. If you always wait for them to initiate the call, they’ll sooner or later brand you unresponsive, and they can quickly drop you and do business with other companies. So, make it a habit of reaching out to customers whenever they have a pending issue to be solved.
In this same sense, see to it if you can try following up with your clients after suggesting a particular solution to their problem. You wouldn’t want to leave it at that and assume that their issues were solved. After an appropriate passing of time, inquire from them whether your suggestions worked. This way, you put a human face to your business, making the customers feel more valued and appreciated, rather than mere objects of profits. Consider this approach to improving your customer retention.
6. Be clear and transparent in your communications
A recent survey indicates that 94% of buyers would be more loyal to businesses that practice transparency. Generally, customers don’t like it when you falsify information just to please them. When they realize that this is what you’ve done, they’ll quickly get annoyed and may never do business with you again. (5)
Therefore, you must always be transparent in all your dealings with customers. For instance, if you offer any product as a free trial and take billing information, ensure that the customers know the exact date the billing will start and how much will be deducted from their accounts. Don’t be vague in your pricing agreement with the aim of subtly sneaking in undisclosed additional fees. If you do this, you’ll be chasing away your would-be customers and locking out the potential ones.
To sum this up, the importance of clear and effective communication with customers can’t be overemphasized. In essence, it’s the heartbeat of your business; do it well, and customers will always come back for more of your services, which is the goal of virtually every business out there. But if your communication methods are substandard, you risk losing your current customers and failing to win new ones. Consider the six incredible tips discussed herein and put them into practice.
- “Richard Branson: ‘Communication Is The Most Important Skill Any Leader Can Possess,’” https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2015/07/07/richard-branson-communication-is-the-most-important-skill-any-leader-can-possess/?sh=3c88cfc12e8a
- “How Technology Influences Communication,” https://www.ijser.org/researchpaper/How-Technology-Influences-Communication.pdf
- “Personalizing Your Customer Communications,” https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/70084
- “Communication channels customers prefer to use to resolve customer service issues in the United States in 2019,” https://www.statista.com/statistics/818566/preferred-channels-customer-service-issues-united-states/
- “Consumers Prefer ‘Honest’ Brands – And Are Willing to Pay Extra for Them,” https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/consumers-prefer-honest-brands-are-willing-pay-extra-them-n644916