Which one of these statements is true?
- Your customers are essential to your business
- Communicating with your customers doesn’t matter
- Customer communication only refers to customer calls
Obviously, the first statement is true. Without customers, your business wouldn’t exist. That’s why customer communication is key. If you don’t have a strategy for communicating with your customers, how can you share the latest products or services you’re adding, address concerns they might have, or build a relationship?
Effective customer communication ensures the success of your business, and that communication happens across multiple channels: from ads to emails to social media. It’s important to know how to talk with your customers on each of these channels. Not knowing can be costly.
In fact, it’s estimated that poor customer communication costs U.S. businesses almost $4 billion annually.
That’s just one reason why creating a customer communication strategy should be one of your business’s top priorities. In this post, we’ll detail:
- What customer communication is
- Why customer communication is so important
- 9 actionable ways to improve customer communication
What is customer communication?
Customer communication is simply any way your business is communicating to or with a customer. This communication happens across all channels—online and offline.
Your customer communications strategy encompasses everything from what mediums you use to communicate with customers to the rules or guidelines you apply to an interaction with a customer.
Customer communication is important because it helps you:
- Build relationships with your customers
- Increase loyalty and retention
- Address customer concerns and complaints
- Improve sentiment about your business
- Present a cohesive brand message
Now, let’s talk about how to make sure your customer communications are in tip-top shape.
How to improve customer communications
How can you effectively communicate with your customers—or improve the communications strategy you already have in place? Here are 9 tips on how to improve customer communications.
1. Understand your audience
If you don’t know who you’re communicating with, it can be difficult to know whether your customer communications are hitting the mark—or missing it completely. This is where knowing and understanding your target audience is crucial.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are my current customers?
What do they have in common?
- Where do they like to communicate with my business?
- How am I communicating with them?
- How do they like to be communicated with?
- What types of communications topics do they prefer?
You might find that many of your current customers are actively engaging with you on social media, but you’re not participating in the conversation there. Or you might notice that your customers respond best to emails promoting sales and deals. You can use those findings to improve the types of customer communications you deploy and the language you use in them.
2. Create clear customer communication guidelines
Creating a good customer experience is important if you want to retain and attract customers. One way to create a good customer experience is to keep it consistent no matter where customers are engaging with your business.
If your email marketing messages and website touts your super-friendly team but a customer has an encounter with an employee at your store that doesn’t align, that’s a bad customer experience (for more than one reason!).
Putting together clear customer communications guidelines can help you create a cohesive customer experience and streamline communication. Plus, it becomes an easy guide for your employees to use when engaging with customers in person or creating communications across other channels such as social media and your website.
Related: Get our call handling best practices.
3. Use positive language
When communicating with customers, it’s important to understand the way your language will be perceived and the reason you’re communicating with that customer or customer set. For example, if a customer contacts you with a problem or issue, there’s a high chance they are feeling stressed and/or frustrated. Talking with the customer in a positive manner and using positive language helps to remove some of this stress or frustration.
For example, instead of saying “Don’t do ____”, a customer support rep could say “____ is what you need to do.” Phrases such as “you don’t understand” or “calm down” are big no-no’s in the customer service industry.
Some simple phrases you could use that use positive language are:
- Definitely! Absolutely!
- How may I help you?
- We will do our best
- Could you please clarify for me?
- I’ll ask my team about your question
A friendly attitude goes a long way and can help to build rapport with your customer.
Customer support experts should be aware of certain etiquette in order to improve customer communications:
- Don’t interrupt
- Don’t do all the talking or dominate the conversation
- Be a good listener
- Do not try to argue
- Ask direct questions to get direct answers
These phrases and tips can easily be incorporated into your customer communications guidelines!
4. Collect customer feedback
Your customers are your greatest asset. If you really want to know how you can improve your communication with them, just ask! Even if you think you’re doing the absolute best, listening to customer feedback won’t hurt.
Feedback allows you to gain insight into how customers feel about your business, open conversations with customers, identify your customers’ needs, and build long-term relationships. You can collect customer feedback in a few ways such as customer surveys, reviews, and insights, and can be gathered using email, tracking social media mentions, or paying attention to product or service requests.
Who better to tell you if your communication is doing well than the people your business communicates with?
5. Automate customer service with live chat
One way to more effectively communicate with customers and make it more convenient for them is to implement live chat on your website.
Website chat gives you an easy way to communicate with customers by answering quick questions, providing the information they’re looking for right away, and solving customer complaints in real-time.
Plus, live chat is customers’ preferred method of communicating:
Live website chat also allows you to streamline communication with customers because you can create guidelines for the scripts your chat agents will use—ensuring you’re presenting a brand-compliant and positive experience for your customers.
Get more benefits of live chat here.
6. Provide personalized communications
Today, customers expect some level of personalization from businesses. In fact, over 70% of customers say they only engage with personalized marketing messages, and 90% reported being annoyed by non-personalized marketing messages.
You can (and should) personalize your customer communications in all channels, including emails, SMS marketing messages, and when speaking with a customer on the phone.
Personalization comes in many forms—of course, using the customer’s name is the best way to personalize your communication. But you can also personalize your customer communications by geographic location, interests, past purchases, where they are in the sales funnel, and more.
7. Be transparent and authentic in how you communicate
Customers have a lot of options when it comes to making a purchase decision. One thing that can improve your customer communications and help you stand out is being transparent and authentic.
In fact, 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support
Customers want to connect with brands in an authentic way, so it’s important for that to come through in your communications.
This can be done by owning up to mistakes, sharing results from customer feedback and how you’ll improve, giving customers a glimpse into how your business operates or plans, and creating a brand community.
By prioritizing authentic customer communications, you can build connections and improve customer loyalty.
8. Use all channels
Back in the day, customer communication would be in-person or by telephone. Then email got added to the mix. Now, today’s tech-oriented world has created multiple ways for customers to reach out to and communicate with businesses.
Customers can now communicate with a business via social media, email, live chat, and more. Your business should provide customer communication on as many of these platforms as possible.
A proper set of tools such as a strong CRM can help support teams be more productive and efficient in solving customer issues.
Customer service reps can answer questions via real-time live chat, send customers follow-ups, and team up with others to create helpful knowledge bases. All of this combined provides great benefit to the customer and can help you automate your marketing.
9. Promote proactive customer communications
No one likes to wait days for a response from customer support. If you don’t want to lose customers, then consider using a proactive customer service approach and helping people in real-time. Proactive communication with customers increases customer retention, loyalty, and satisfaction.
Become a customer communications pro
Your customers are your priority and nothing makes a customer feel like a priority more than great customer communication. Customer communications enhance the experience customers have with your business and a great customer communications strategy can increase a business’ reputation, customer retention, and sales.
Here are the top 9 ways to improve customer communications:
- Understand your audience
- Create clear customer communication guidelines
- Use positive language
- Collect customer feedback
- Automate customer service with live chat
- Provide personalized communications
- Be transparent and authentic in how you communicate
- Use all channels
- Promote proactive customer communications
Hopefully, you will implement some of the tips we’ve given you and will soon see better conversations and relationships with your customers. You might even begin to build a brand community.
About the author
John Allen is the Director of SEO for 8×8, a leading Gartner Unified Communications platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality. John is a marketing professional with over 14 years of experience in the field, and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs across SEM, SEO, and a myriad of services. This is his LinkedIn.