How To Craft A Customer Communication Strategy That Works
Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s the day of love, so we’re diving into the subject. Here at Bareknuckle, we love our clients. And our clients love their customers. And those customers are BIG FANS of our clients’ awesome products and services.
It’s all a big circle of love and appreciation around here. But just like any relationship, there’s one key component that always (yes, we mean always) must be present in order to create and maintain happy relationships. Communication.
You’re probably already aware of this truth. In order to make customers happy, you must let them know you’re there for them and are listening. To build a trusting relationship with clients, you must be open, transparent, and accessible. And, no questions asked, to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse you’ve got to communicate.
Communication is essential in all walks of life, but especially in business during a time when it’s so dang easy to get in contact with customers, clients, and brands you want to reach.
So we’re here to let you in on a little secret: all great brands who practice killer communication with their customers have a customer communication strategy to back it up. And here’s a not-so-secret-secret: you need a strategy too.
Why Is Customer Communication So Important?
We’ve all been there–delayed situations because someone won’t email you back. Unanswered questions that make doing your job way harder than it needs to be. Or trouble with a brand that just doesn’t care about what you have to say.
Communication is more just a fluffy, service-level idea. And it’s certainly much more than just responding to client emails and providing customer service to buyers when they need your assistance. Every client, customer, order, project, status, you name it, is different. Each one deserves your attention if you want to make a sale or keep a customer around.
Scott Draeger, VP of Customer Transformation at Quadient, makes an excellent point: “Customers are seeing communication as a differentiator and they’re voting with their wallets.”
Bingo! Consumers are requiring engagement, attention, and a customer experience unlike any other from brands. And if you’re not that brand for them, they’ll move onto the next.
You have to stay on top of the game, be proactive, and continuously initiate communication efforts. And this all takes practice in order to master the skill.
More Great Benefits Of A Customer Communication Strategy
Just like Draeger said, communication is a huge differentiator for customers. If a customer’s not happy with how they’re being treated or feel that they aren’t given adequate attention, they’ll take their money elsewhere.
While, yes, we want to communicate effectively to make sales, there are other great benefits of practicing above-parr communication with your clients and customers.
1. Less Error and Miscommunication
Miscommunication costs money. And in a time where email, messages, and calls can (and will) come to you at any second, it’s that much more important to be responsive, clear, and prompt with customers so that miscommunication doesn’t happen.
As you’ve probably guessed, a communication strategy will help those dreadful and costly miscommunication scenarios.
2. Increased Customer Loyalty
The fight’s not over once you’ve made a sale. It’s actually just begun.
Communication is still an essential piece of the puzzle after a purchase has been made–you want that customer to stick around, after all. And you want them to spread the word about your brand too. In order to make that happen, brands have to provide amazing service to earn continued business and stay top of mind.
Blow their minds with your responsiveness and genuine care–make them stick around for the long run.
3. Helps Land Those Difficult Sales
Sure, we could all agree that staying on top of every method of communication with customers takes a lot of time. As the clock’s ticking you might be worried if that time is even worth it, especially when it comes to difficult sales.
Great client communication, even if it seems to be taking more time than needed, will help close those difficult sales and get you the business your brand wants. Get more of the business that you deserve with clear, strategic communication.
What The Future Holds For Customer Expectations
Like anything in this ever-changing world, the wants and needs of customers will fluctuate and grow over time. While it never used to be an expectation to receive an immediate response to a social media message, now it’s a must.
Here are some of the changes we’re seeing now when it comes to expectations and communication with customers and clients. Pay attention to these trends and incorporate them into your customer communication strategies now to stay ahead of the game.
Customer Experience Will Continue To Be A Top Priority
Customer service is one of the biggest brand differentiators. And in 2020, it’ll continue to be a top priority.
96% of people say that customer service and attentive communication plays a huge role in their buying and brand loyalty decisions. And many are even willing to pay more for better customer service.
Try your best to personalize support for each of your customers this year. Pay attention to popular customer communication channels and streamline your strategies.
It’ll all pay off in the end–just watch your customer base grow and your customer communication develop even further.
Engagement And Communication Are Most Definitely Connected
While we think of engagement as an ongoing conversation, we don’t always associate customer communication with the same concept. Communication is not a one-way street, and it’s not an isolated experience either. Instead, proper communication can (and should) take place throughout the entire customer journey.
Strategize a plan from beginning to end and make sure every customer feels completely taken care of and listened to every step of the way.
- The Beginning – Engage with your audience even before they are buying customers. Talk to them, send them promotions, and reply to their comments to begin developing a relationship.
- Throughout the Journey – Follow along with a customer as they get to know your brand and are teeter-tottering about a purchasing decision. Persuade them as they’re in the middle of the funnel and get them to convert through great communication.
- After the Purchase – The journey’s never over. Maintain a relationship with buying customers and get them to stick around to either buy again or spread the word about how great they were treated by your brand.
Customer Communication Can Happen Anywhere
Communication with customers was once a channel-focused situation–customers could call for assistance or email customer support. Now that’s simply not the case.
Think of all the ways a customer can reach you now. Email, phone, in-person, social media messengers, comments, reviews–the list is certainly longer now than it’s ever been. And while prior to this multi-channel world of communication it was easy to keep track of customer communications, it’s much more of a challenge now.
From checking every review site out there to managing each social media channel’s comments, messages, and stories, it’s a lot–but it’s necessary.
One bad review can spread like wildfire. One negative comment can get a large conversation started. And an unanswered question could quite possibly give you a bad reputation. It’s crucial to pay attention to every avenue of communication and ensure each one of your people feels genuinely taken care of.
Pay Close Attention To Your Connected Customers
With any brand, there are certain customers who are more connected with your brand than others. They follow along on every platform, engage, and are looking for what we call ‘instant gratification.’
Instant gratification comes along when marketers must constantly and continuously use data that connected customers leave behind as they interact with your brand. Then you can really get to know who those people are, understand what they need and expect, and then strategize a plan to deliver a personalized and relevant experience.
A great place to start with is email segmentation. With email segmentation, you can attach tags to the people who sign up for your email list based on what you already know about them. Let’s say someone signed up through the signup form on your blog. They must be interested in more information. If you obtained an email address from an expo your brand recently showed its face at, tag them for that event. Then you have segmented lists that make it easy to deliver relevant information to the people you know will want it.
How To Win At The Customer Communication Game With A Plan
Now that we’ve gone through the big WHY and the 2020 trends of customer communication, let’s talk game plan. How do you create a strategy that takes you to the top of the communication game? And what are the most essential pieces of your next strategy?
Here are the 4 components we feel are most important with every method of communication with customers.
Always Be Transparent
If honesty is the best policy, let that honesty shine through your brand’s communication efforts. If you’re completely transparent, honest, and genuine with your customers, they’re likely to be the same with you. Never hide information–they’ll find out. Always give your best opinion and advice. And let your customers in on what’s going on internally. The more you give customers an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes and let them in on your processes and thoughts, the better and more understanding your relationship will be.
Make Sure Your Customers Feel Heard
Nobody likes to be ignored. Being ignored or misunderstood is a sure way to an unnecessary (and probably emotional) situation. Always try your best to understand a customer’s point of view and listen to what they have to say. Even if you don’t agree or feel that you need to push back for their good (or your own), you must still make sure that your customers feel heard, no matter the scenario or the outcome.
Be Proactive Instead Of Reactive
Never let a situation get out of hand before you communicate with a customer. By being proactive at all times, especially if something isn’t going as planned, you’ll be able to steer away from unnecessary situations and make customers feel that you’re ready to fix any problem. Proactive communication builds that trust and assures your audience that, as a brand, you’re always there for them.
Don’t Limit Customer Service To Your Customer Service Department
With many small businesses, everyone at your company might be at the center of customer service–it’s just what happens with smaller companies. But with larger brands, there’s probably a specific department that deals with customer questions and service. Whether you’re a large brand or a small one, make sure that excellent customer service and communication is practiced and perfected throughout your entire brand. This means training every employee in the on-brand language department, ensuring everyone’s tone is positive and alike, and that questions can be answered by everyone (or at least moved in the right direction).
Let’s put these plans into action. Here are 3 examples of great customer communication backed by strategy.
Example 1: Live Video
Live video is what many customers are raving about, and here’s why: they’re with your brand at that moment and are able to communicate live–it makes them feel heard and involved. Incorporating live video into your customer communication strategy is a great and innovative way to make everyone in the audience feel that they are part of the conversation. And the great thing here is that you can answer questions and talk to a larger number of customers live. Give it a try!
Example 2: Honing In On Human Interaction
Everyone likes to feel special, especially this time of year (Happy V-Day!). Your customers do too–every day of the year. Nobody’s looking to be just another order number or email waiting in an inbox. Consumers want real-life human interaction with the brands that they love. So go the extra length to make sure the people who already (or are soon to) love you feel that they have your attention. Human aspect of your brand is irreplaceable, so treat it that way and make sure your customers feel recognized so they give your brand the recognition you want too.
Example 3: Guidelines For Employee Communication
No matter who a customer speaks to within your brand, the authenticity, tone, voice, and attitude should be consistent across the board. For this to happen, an on-brand communication plan needs to be put in place. This can come from brand guidelines that work to ensure your employees know how your brand speaks and how they will speak when interacting with a customer. Your customers should always know what to expect when they come in contact with your business.
Do You Clarity To Develop A Plan?
Having a cohesive and well put together plan for communication all starts with knowing you are and making sure your employees know too. What does communication look like within your brand? How will everyone’s tone be? What kind of language do you use, and what do you most certainly not use?
Ask yourself these questions and if they aren’t clearly defined AND written out for everyone to see, it’s time to get it done.
We like beer, do you? Start by sharing a beer with the branding experts here at Bareknuckle with a Buy Us a Beer brand consultation. We can hone in on that language and make sure you come out on the other side with a strategy that wins the customer communication game.