Have you ever observed communication with customers as an outsider? If yes, you are aware of the enormous impact communication has on the overall business performance.
Effective communication is doubtlessly at the centre of a memorable customer experience. If a company fails even once to deliver a positive experience, there is a risk of losing a customer. According to recent research by Pwc, 32% of users would stop interacting with a brand after a single unpleasant touchpoint.
For people to feel heard, supported, and acknowledged, the communication strategy must be in place. Nowadays, it is business-critical for customer-facing employees to be comfortable with owning both digital and face to face conversations.
In this article, we summarized the key elements of efficient customer communication based on various studies and our own experience in CX.
What makes effective communication with customers?
Customer communication is any verbal interaction users have with a company. These interactions can take place across various channels such as e-mail, phone calls, live chat, or face to face conversations.
Over the past two years, companies understood that communication is a powerful tool for building long term trust. When involved in conversations intentionally, customers might turn into brand advocates and loyal users. To maintain strong customer relationships, companies have to revisit their communication strategies regularly. Let’s take a look at some of the ‘evergreen’ tips for efficient communication in the CX industry.
The five essential elements of powerful communication with customers
To develop outstanding communication with customers, companies have to be ready to track and measure every touchpoint along their journey. Exceptional communication skills take time and training. However, five essential elements can help you start building long-lasting and trustful relationships with your users as of today.
1. Practice active listening
Effective communication with customers starts with active listening. The purpose of listening is to understand the customers’ problem, and not to respond to it immediately. Unfortunately, many organizations get prepared to respond to a request without taking the time to listen and empathize.
How can a support service agent practice active listening?
By asking questions to understand what the need behind a certain problem is. The skill of asking powerful questions has two key benefits: to develop empathy and to gather customer feedback. Such an approach to customer communication creates an opportunity for ongoing CX improvement, innovation, and creativity.
To provide you with first-hand insights, we asked our CXM star, Amanda Riches, to share her opinion on empathetic customer communication:
A client once said to me ‘whether you are B2B or B2C it’s really H2H – Human to Human.’ Empathy builds human connection and shows you care as a human and as an organisation. Show empathy through properly putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, actively listen and understand, refrain from judgement, and acknowledge how your customer feels.
2. Provide personalized communication with customers
Who loves receiving generic emails and responses to a request? Users today expect companies to build a relationship with them. One way to achieve a strong bond is to personalize every interaction you have with customers. Personalization requires curiosity, research, and adequate technology to support customer-facing employees to react accordingly.
Investing in personalized communication surely pays out. According to a recent study, 91%of customers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and make offers personal to them. The guaranteed way to personalize your interactions is to ask good questions. People appreciate when brands show curiosity for their unique personalities.
3. Develop admirable CS speed
Have you ever experienced waiting on hold too long just to get through on the phone with the CS agent? Let’s face it. It is one of the worst things to experience as a customer. According to PwC, nearly 80% of American consumers say that speed is one of the most important elements of a positive customer experience.
To reach the admirable speed of customer service, you will need to have all your teams aligned and timely updated on every change around the product. It might not seem obvious, but silos are one of the main obstacles to free information flow. Therefore, make sure your support department is well connected with your sales and marketing departments.
4. Invest in multichannel customer interactions
“The medium is the message.” Marshall McLuhan
Over the past two years, the pandemic created a sharp shift in how companies communicate with customers. Due to the new circumstances, people became more comfortable with using technology. According to research from Nuance, around 55% of UK adults will prefer digital channels post-pandemic.
Live chat is currently one of the most preferred digital communication channels. Moreover, FM Outsource shared that 74% of consumers believed that live chat should be available on a retailer’s website.
This data is just one example of how consumers habits can change rapidly. Companies have to be prepared to constantly reinvent their interaction channels to meet the users where they are. To answer these ever-changing demands, companies have to embrace agility and flexibility in their approach to communication with customers.
5. Ensure data transparency and data privacy
In today’s digital age, it is important to ensure data privacy and meet ethical standards in CS. Data transparency and data privacy are currently burning topics in CX. Companies that answer to it ethically, have better chances to earn customer trust and loyalty. According to a 2020 McKinsey survey, that 71% of customers would leave a company if it shared their data without permission.
The best practice to ensure data privacy in communication with customers is to allow them to have control over the type of information they want to share with you. In this way, you allow them to decide whether they prefer an email, phone, or chat interaction.
The benefits of successful communication with customers
The effective communication strategy must address all stages of the customer lifecycle. This often takes time, patience, expertise, and resources. However, the benefits of prioritizing your communication with customers are immense. Let’s name just a few:
1. Customer loyalty
There are many factors impacting customer loyalty, but after all, everything starts and ends with communication. According to a Microsoft report, customer service has a 96% impact on how loyal customers will be to a brand. Good communication with customers is an opportunity to tell a story, gain trust, build long term relationships, and turn your loyal customers into ambassadors.
For any human interaction, customer loyalty can be won or lost through the empathy of employees. For example, in one analysis we completed at Medallia, empathy drivers were 2X more important in fostering loyalty than any other factor along the journey, added Amanda Riches, Head of CX and EX Consulting at Medallia.
2. Service and product innovation
Proactive customer communication helps companies to constantly gain valuable business insights. This often leads to ‘accidental innovation’ and breakthrough products. Embracing customer communication as an infinite process can be a powerful and game-changing mindset for any business looking for sustainable growth.
3. Overall business growth
There is no doubt the effective communication with customers drives business growth. The secret, though, is in going beyond traditional, rigid, and useless communication techniques. To achieve this, companies have to show the readiness to constantly investigate, analyse, empower their employees, and provide them with the right communication tools.
Efficient communication increases customer retention, create a positive company culture, and drive customer advocacy. Efficient communication is also how companies break silos and bring people to create great things together.
The year behind us shook things up and made the opportunity for businesses to revisit both their internal and external communication strategies. We encourage you to use some of the above steps to ensure long-lasting customer relationships.