Communication is the sauce that builds and maintains brands, and you can get maximum results in your business if you communicate effectively with your customers. This is especially important with regard to existing customers, because you want repeat business from them, and you want them to promote you to their circles. Here is a statistic for added motivation; getting a new customer is five times as hard (and expensive) as retaining an existing one!
We discuss some practices that you can implement in order to be more effective in your communication with customers. None of these practices is new, but we strongly recommend that you become more intentional and systematic in implementing them so that your business can reap maximum results long-term.
Formulate Customer Care Standards
A business should operate in a consistent way so that customers know what to expect from a given brand regardless of which individual they interact with. This is why customer care standards are so important. They set the bar regarding how customers should be handled.
For example, set the maximum duration for resolving a customer complaint and never deviate from that standard. If a customer messages the company with a complaint, for example, respond to that complaint within 24 hours if that is the internal standard you have set.
Remember that we live in at a time when people expect or demand immediate gratification, so your standards should be cognizant of this reality. For instance, why wait three days to respond to a Tweet in which your company has been tagged? Such a delay shows you are unbothered about what customers think, and such a delay can cost you current and future customers.
So, set standards governing how your business handles different aspects of customer communication so that clients can be wowed at every opportunity.
Actively Listen to Customers
The worst possible thing that you or a representative of your company can do is to interrupt a customer and offer a solution. This is disrespectful, and I don’t think you would continue being a patron of an establishment that disrespects you, would you?
Always listen actively and let a customer finish what they have to say before you respond. Active listening entails paraphrasing what the customer says and asking if you have understood them correctly. It also involves not having any preconceived notions about the client’s concerns until they have fully conveyed those concerns. In short, put the customer at the center of the interaction and tailor your responses and actions to address the customer’s real needs.
When customers feel that you genuinely care about what they have to say and are committed to helping them, they remain with a positive impression about the company and are more likely to be loyal to your brand regardless of the problem that they had communicated about.
Respond to Unhappy Clients Promptly
Every time an unhappy customer reaches out to your business, celebrate this as a win. Why? A significant number of unhappy clients don’t reach out and instead “vote” with their wallets; they take their business elsewhere! The one who complains to you is actually doing you a favor and giving the business an opportunity to redeem itself. Celebrate this!
Secondly, unhappy customers give important feedback on what you can improve. No business should ever become so full of itself that it imagines it has got everything perfected. There is always room for improvement so that the business can grow. To put it starkly, if a business isn’t growing, it most definitely is dying (and the rate of dying can be imperceptibly slow, dizzyingly fast or somewhere in-between those extremes).
Unhappy clients are therefore great for your business because they show you the gaps you may have missed in your product or service.
Always be prompt in addressing customer complaints. As we mentioned earlier, it is typical for a customer to post a concern on, say, Twitter, and expect your response instantly. Address concerns as promptly as possible (we aren’t suggesting you stay awake all night anxiously waiting for any incoming complaint so you can address it immediately).
Swift and effective responses to the concerns of unhappy customers can put your business in good light, and you will not only retain the unhappy customer but also win over new ones who may be watching from the sidelines, especially on social media.
Leverage 2-Way Communication Channels
If you want maximum results from your communication with customers, look into making use of two-way communication channels so that information can flow both ways. Two-way communication nurtures and cements brand loyalty.
For example, social media platforms provide an excellent way for two-way communication to happen, which may not be possible when you send email newsletters.
On social media, both parties (your business and customers) can interact in real time, and that avails vital opportunities to gather helpful information on customer suggestions, concerns and developing trends.
It is therefore important for your business to consider all available two-way communication channels are leverage those which are likely to be most useful to your business. For example, Instagram may be a great option if your target demographic is younger people and your industry can benefit from the features that this platform offers. In contrast, LinkedIn may be great if you operate in the B2B (Business-to-Business) space and your target customers are business executives.
In short, not every platform is suited to every industry or business. Your work is to identify the specific platforms where your target customers can be found and leverage those for effective communication with that customer base.
Summing it up…
Communicating effectively with customers requires being methodical and consistent in your approach. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Ensure that your brand voice shines through on all the communication that flows to your customers, and keep refining your strategy in light of the changing landscape.
The results may not show immediately, but with each customer who ends an interaction on a happy note, your brand will be well on its way to winning the hearts and minds of its target clients.
In the long run, brand health is far more valuable than short term sales.