According to Microsoft, 54% of consumers globally say their expectations for customer service are higher than they were the year before.
Thanks to technology, brands can now connect with their customers in a variety of ways (from social media to email), personalize the shopping experience, collect customer feedback in a matter of seconds, and automate almost every part of the customer service process.
It’s no wonder people now expect the biggest and best.
And with consumer standards increasing, nearly 46% of brands say they’re focusing most on customer experience over the next 5 years.
But the most essential step of building a brand with an excellent customer experience is actually quite simple: mastering customer communication.
Superb customer communication can help you make more money and secure new customers, save money through automation and efficiency, retain your current buyers, and more.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 10 out-of-the-box customer communication tips to help you become a true master of the craft.
1. Build an Omnichannel Communication Strategy
In today’s hyper-digitalized world, your customers have a wide array of communication options to choose from. As such, you should make an effort to meet them where they are through building an omnichannel communication strategy.
Some of the most common methods consumers use as a means of communication are social media, email, and chat functions.
By using all three of these, you can reduce the frustration customers might face when it comes time to reach out to you. Not to mention, covering more ground means landing in front of more eyes.
For example, say 40% of your customers favor social media when looking for updates from their favorite brands. However, your current strategy only communicates with them via email. That means nearly half of your base isn’t seeing your promotions, product releases, company announcements, sales emails, and much more.
Not only that, but where your customers voice their complaints and leave negative reviews should be a strong focus in your communication strategy. According to research from Sprout Social, although most customers (51%) still prefer to make complaints in-person, an astounding 47% turn to social media first.
Next in line is email, then phone.
What this means: by avoiding certain communication channels, you’re ignoring customer feedback, losing out on visibility, and potentially missing out on future sales.
2. Favor In-app Messages Over External Channels
Reckless Agency conducted a study to find out which had the best open rates and click-through rates–push notifications, in-app messaging, or email.
While a push notification sends alerts to the user’s phone while they aren’t using the app (in an attempt to get them to open it), in-app messages only appear while the user is actively using the app.
And of course, we’re all at least vaguely familiar with email marketing: when brands send messages directly to our inboxes.
The results of the study were clear as day: in-app messaging was the winner.
Its open rate was an impressive 75%, which was over 45 times higher than email and almost 3 times higher than push notifications.
Although its reasonable click-through rate of 7% didn’t come out on top, it was significantly higher than email again (just above 1%). Push notifications claimed this category with a CTR of 44%.
As you can see, working in-app messages into your communication strategy is a worthwhile endeavor. And when paired with other methods like the more traditional email marketing where you create newsletters and widely-used push notifications, it can truly work wonders.
It’s also likely the quickest way to alert customers of potential let-downs or frustrations before they can run to leave you a bad review. For example, if your website is currently down or your app is experiencing glitches, in-app messaging allows you to alert customers of these issues before they can even experience them on their own. Just sending an email, however, might never even get opened.
3. Personalize Every Message You Send
It’s no secret that today, no matter what industry your business is a part of, personalization is in style. And as a brand, you should be sprinkling it into everything you do–especially when it comes to customer communication.
Everything from the way you address your audience in emails to the products you suggest they purchase on your homepage can be (and should be) personalized.
In fact, Slideshare reports that 80% of consumers are more inclined to buy from businesses that provide tailored experiences, and Salesforce that 66% actually expect their individual needs to be understood by brands.
So, what are some ways you can do this when it comes to customer communication specifically?
For one, make sure your support reps still have a human feel. Doing so can be as simple as giving your reps profile pictures in live chats, using their real names, and having them periodically ask customers for genuine feedback–whether positive or negative.
Take Hollander Law Firm as an example. The live chat on their website features the rep’s profile picture, online status, and it lets visitors know that there’s a real person on the other end.
In short, customers should never feel like they aren’t talking to a real person who cares about their experience, or someone who only wants positive reinforcement.
4. Master the Art of Follow-ups
Sending follow-up emails is great for customer retention, increased sales, and improving brand trust. However, it’s a practice that can be difficult to hone.
There are times where follow-ups are necessary and beneficial, and others when they’d do more damage than good. People want to be checked up on, and we all have a tendency to forget to reply when we’re busy. But also because they’re busy, the last thing your customers want is to be nagged.
If you’re confused about when a situation calls for a follow-up, here are a few where you have the green light to hit “send”:
- Asking for customer satisfaction or feedback. If it’s been a few weeks since a customer has shopped or done business with you, take time to gently ask for their feedback or if they’ve been fully satisfied.
- Letting them know you’ve acted on their suggestions. If a customer has recommended adding a feature to your product, making adjustments to your checkout process, making suggestions for improving your site’s user-friendliness, etc., and you decided to make those changes–reach back out to let them know.
- Responding to negative reviews or feedback. If a customer has left a complaint, bad review, or the like, reach out to them personally and offer a solution or ask how they’d like you to handle it. And don’t forget to thank them for the feedback, as it helps your business improve.
Of course, this isn’t a list of the only scenarios where follow-up emails are a good idea. But they’re a start, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
5. Underpromise, Overdeliver
No one likes to be disappointed, but everyone likes to be surprised. This is the idea behind the saying “underpromise, overdeliver.”
While you certainly want to make a stunning first impression with potential customers and sell your product/service as soon as possible, be careful not to promise too much to the prospects you’re chatting with.
There’s nothing beneficial about promising the world and then not being able to fully deliver. It further frustrates customers that might’ve already been on the fence about making a purchase, and it sets you up for complaints and bad reviews.
This doesn’t just apply when it comes to features and benefits of what you’re selling, though. Many business owners make the mistake of overpromising on timelines, deadlines, availability, and the like. You’re probably familiar with the phrase “don’t bite off more than you can chew.” It’s not just good productivity and life advice, but also sound business advice.
Instead, set realistic expectations when it comes to what you or your product can do as well as when you can deliver, then go above and beyond.
6. Create Detailed Buyer Personas to Better Understand Your Customers
HubSpot defines a buyer persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
The reason a buyer persona is described as semi-fictional is that while the character you come up with is fictitious itself, the type of person it represents is very much real.
Let’s say you’re a coffee company, for example. You likely appeal to a large audience–after all, 7 out of 10 Americans admit to drinking coffee every week, and 62% every day–which means establishing a genuine connection with them can be a daunting task.
Instead of communicating with every customer the same way, you break them down into different categories of coffee drinkers who would (or already do) enjoy your drinks. These are your buyer personas.
One buyer persona you might have, for example, is Busy Betty–a working mom of four who goes to zumba at 5 A.M., drops the kids off at school by 7:45, clocks into work at 8, leaves by 4, then goes home to a hungry family and helps with homework. The only way Betty makes it through her days is by drinking at least three cups of coffee a day.
As you can see, Busy Betty is a much different type of customer than Sippy Susy, the 19-year-old taking a gap year who drinks one cup of coffee a week when she goes out with friends. These two people belong to many different demographics and thus have their own wants, complaints, preferred communication methods, and more.
It only makes sense to communicate with them uniquely.
This is not just effective for brick and mortar businesses but for digital ones as well. If you own a Shopify store, you could use Google Analytics to track what sort of traffic is coming in. Based on where the traffic is coming from, you could recommend different products.
7. Establish Consistent Brand Messaging Across Teams
Although today’s digital world makes chatting with anyone–especially your customer base–quick and easy, it also means your teams need to know your brand’s voice like the backs of their hands. With a social media team, sales team, email marketing team, copywriters, customer service reps, and more, staying consistent with the way your brand is talked about can be a hassle.
Because of this, make sure that anyone who interacts with customers (or potential customers) knows exactly how to talk about your business, product/service, and mission/goals. And if they don’t have an answer to a question, they should know exactly who to direct the inquiring customer to.
8. Improve Your First Impressions
Research shows that it takes approximately 50 milliseconds (or, 0.05 seconds) for consumers to form an impression about your website, as well as decide whether they’ll leave or stay.
So if you’re looking for ways to boost your sales–or trying to figure out why you haven’t met your goals or expectations when it comes to revenue–examining your website design and user-friendliness is a great place to start. You might even consider recruiting the help of a freelance web designer or graphic designer.
This is especially true for eCommerce businesses and those whose customer bases spend a lot of time online. But it also goes for your social media pages, blog content, the way your customer service team answers phone calls, what people see when they walk through your doors, how diverse your work staff is, and the like.
When it comes to customer service, no one likes a Negative Nancy. Make sure your reps maintain a positive, lighthearted tone–especially when talking over the phone. And if your website uses live chat, the rep on the other end should respond with enthusiasm and an eagerness to help.
9. Avoid Industry Jargon and Favor Simple Words
When communicating with customers, you want to come across as an authority in your field, an industry expert, and a knowledgeable person who has the answers to their problems.
It’s a good impression to make (and one you should strive for), but it isn’t earned by talking like a living thesaurus.
Remember the way reading academic papers in college made you feel dumb, or like you weren’t understanding something you should? Yeah–that’s a feeling you never want your customers to have when communicating with you.
Instead of using advanced terminology and industry jargon, opt for more simple language that even a middle schooler could understand.
There are plenty of other ways to show your professionalism, mainly through conflict resolution, your blog and social media content, testimonials and positive customer reviews, and more.
10. Automate as Much of Customer Support as You Can
In 2022, there’s no reason you can’t find more efficient ways to handle customer support than you are right now.
From live chat debugging to using videos to explain common problems, there’s a plethora of technology out there that makes it easier (and faster) for customers to explain their issues. Not to mention, automation makes resolving those issues faster, too.
Guest Author: Freya Laskowski
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Freya is a personal finance expert and founder of the CollectingCents website that teaches readers how to grow their passive income, save money, improve their credit score, and manage debt. She has been featured in publications like Business Insider, Fox Business, the Huffington Post, and GoBankingRates.
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