Communications may not be the first thing that comes to mind for business success, but it’s the core of your relationship with your customers. Putting some thought into setting up your customer communication can give your business a competitive edge. Here’s some ideas to get you thinking in the right direction.
1. Are you saying what your customer needs to hear?
In many cases communications begin with what you want to say to your customer. Turn that around and ask if what you are saying is what they need to hear. Will it help them? Solve their problem? Answer their question? If not, change the message so it will. Remember this in the rest of your communications decisions and you’ll have a touchstone for making your choice. Need to decide on the text of your website? What does a customer, existing or potential, come to the site to find out? Make sure that’s on your site and easy to find.
Does your customer need to talk to a live human being? Make sure that they can talk to the right person as soon as possible. A frustrating trip through a phone system being routed to the wrong person or department, then transferred back and forth looking for an answer can cause second thoughts in even the most loyal customer. Make sure they can get where they want to go with as little frustration as possible.
2. Do you have your story straight?
Any company generates a lot of communications and much of it is on similar topics. A lot of invoices, requests for proposals, or product descriptions get sent out. Make templates of all common or important documents so they will all communicate the same information in the same way to all your customers. It’s not necessary, or worth the time, to come up with a new way of saying the same thing each time you want to send something out. Take the time to standardize it, make it consistent with other documents, and polish it up to be the best it can be. Then make it easy for all your employees to use it rather than make their own.
3. What’s your web presence?
It’s possible the first contact a new customer has with your company is your website. Does it say what you want it to say? Does it provide what your customer needs it to? Take some time and think about who is visiting your website and why. See if you can meet their needs on this initial contact. Then give it some more thought and decide how you can help your existing customers.
One simple improvement is an up-to-date contact page, accurately listing how your company can be reached for any of a number of reasons. Questions? Complaints? Orders? It should be quick and easy for a customer to find you and get in touch.
4. Are you social enough?
Social media offers an amazing array of opportunities for companies and customers to interact. Make sure you take advantage of it, but without getting overwhelmed. There are a large number of social media outlets, you’ll have to choose between them and select the ones you want to maintain a presence on.
It can be a big investment in time and energy to keep up a social media page. Make sure you can afford it before you start. Abandoned accounts can make customer feel you don’t care enough to keep them up, and that can mean you don’t care enough about them. Only take on what you can maintain and keep a healthy presence with regular activity.
5. Can they just call you?
Even in the highly technological world of today, personal contact is important. Meeting face to face can be a problem but being able to talk to a person is the next best thing. Setting up call centers and office phone systems using the best business voip providers can put technology to work on your side. With clear calls, people can read all the vocal inflection which is missing from text or emails and have a clearer understanding of the person at the other end of the line. Voip systems also allow savings by creating distributed call centers with minimal equipment costs, as well as improving your office communications with features like automatic forwarding of calls to cell phones or sophisticated automated routing of calls.
These are just some of the areas where communications are critical to a company, but they may be some of the most important. As you consider the rest of your communication strategy, keep the concepts illustrated here in mind. What does the customer need, are you clear and consistent, are you serving the most common need, do you have an active presence, can your customers find what they need. If you have good answers for these questions, you are on the road to good communications.
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Founder Dinis Guarda
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