Sam HoldingSam HoldingJune 17, 2020
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5min896

Just a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent; and for most marketers, this is not news.

Customer experience and loyalty have lately been brought into the epicentre of marketing operations, as the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic impact affect critical business KPIs at organisations across a variety of industries and geos.

Many businesses are redirecting their strategy to focus more on customer experience, from both a proactive standpoint and a reactive one. During a crisis, like the current pandemic, it all comes down to customer communications.

For most industry sectors, email marketing is pivotal to customer experience and loyalty, and not without a good reason. Email is a truly powerful tool:

  • It follows your customers everywhere: on laptops, smartphones, tablets, watches, etc.
  • It’s friendly and easy to use for consumers, and cost effective for businesses
  • It’s a rich medium that supports a wide range of content type, design assets, and engagement tools

Using email marketing effectively can have a direct, positive impact not only on sales, but also on customer engagement and loyalty. So, how can organisations develop a good email practice? Here are a few tips to help transform the ability to educate and inform, minimising frustrations for both marketers and customers during challenging times.

Make it relevant

Like most of us, your customers probably receive hundreds of emails every day. Each morning they go through their inbox and choose what’s for reading and what’s for the junk folder, or prioritise those emails that appeal to them most.

Content that’s relevant to your customer base, which is brief but well-written, is more likely to be read. If your audience is large and diverse, perform some segmentation and adjust your content to match each group’s interests and needs. Another good practice is to use geographical criteria in order to help your customers connect with other customers, service providers in their area, or the local community.

Make it clear

During a crisis, it’s more important than ever to understand and use customer data. Knowing where customers are in their journey can help organisations identify needs and create opportunities for proactive message development.

By offering helpful information to customers, brands can effectively evangelise their customer-first approach, while demonstrating their ability to understand customer needs by merging data with communications and thoughtful messaging.

Make it transactional – but be human

According to Experian, transactional emails are opened 8 times more often than typical marketing emails. But even when it’s generated automatically, the email is still a communication stream and, like any other type of communication, it can bring together all the characteristics of human interaction.

Emails come packed with expectations. People expect your emails to follow the usual norms and principles of social interactions. Particularly during the lockdown, It’s essential to keep in mind that your audience is made up of real people – so be friendly, be candid, and use normal language.

Invest in proactive outreach to lighten customer service backlogs

While ramping up a customer service workforce takes time, strategising email marketing to mitigate the burden on customer experience is something that can be done with speed and efficiency, and provide rapid return. Clear, informative messaging has the ability to proactively address future confusion and allow for self-troubleshooting.

Tightening your messaging strategy and content makes it easy to further support your customer-facing workforce by maintaining consistency and minimising confusion as the team engage with customers.

These “front-line” interactions hold a lot of weight for the overall brand and can be the difference between well-informed, satisfied customers and confused, dissatisfied ones.

Ask for feedback

No matter how good you are, or how closely you are following your well-designed strategy, there’s always room for improvement. By asking your customers for feedback you can maintain a healthy, open, two-way communication between your organisation and your target audience while showing that you are willing to adjust and cater to their needs.

Bonus: collecting feedback frequently will help you remain relevant to your customers’ needs and interests.


Darrell ColeDarrell ColeMay 28, 2020
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8min1042

As a customer, getting service in the digital age can be very trying. 

Hoping that your email messages don’t end up in spam filters or disregarded, getting lost in automated telephone trees, having conversations with chat-bots, among others, leaves most people screaming for interaction with a fellow human being.

Email Fails

One of the most common methods for businesses to interact with their (potential) customers is through email. Have a question, complaint or request? No problem. Just email us (typically through Info@).

Despite claims of easy access and quick responses, my experiences over the past year have been anything but. I was experiencing what seemed to be a decline in customer service when dealing with organisations via email. This feeling was so significant that I decided to track my interactions over a four-month period (pre-CoVid19), just to see if what I was experiencing was real.

Here are the results.

I was seeking a local brew pub to partner on an event and sent a detailed email message to several through their respective websites. Of those contacted, only one replied. As a follow-up, I decided to personally visit two of those establishments. One of them told me they would have to discuss it with the owner and get back to me. They never did. In the end, we held the event at a local restaurant who responded to my email message the same day. It was a roaring success and they gained profile and customers.

I am a season ticket holder of a local dance company. I wanted to buy a second ticket and sent them a message asking how to do that. After four such email messages over the span of a month without a response, I tried calling.  I never received a response to my call. I also visited their office twice, hoping to catch someone there. They were closed both times (no office hours posted). I was finally able to get a response after the fifth message. I won’t be renewing with them next season.

Our company belongs to a local business association, one that we pay for a membership in and correspond with frequently. Its primary mandate relates to providing services for its business members, yet my email interactions were something less:

  • I sent an email asking about a policy position. I received no response.
  • I sent an email informing the association that I could access a free resource for interested fellow members. How could we best approach getting the word out? No response.
  • I sent an email asking for clarification regarding event dates as a couple of them had contradicting dates between the brochure and the website. No response.

I finally informed an employee of the organisation of my struggles and he apologised, citing that “they had been very busy” and he would call me the next day. I never heard from him again. I doubt that our company will be renewing our membership next year.

I contacted a local company about a group gathering they were hosting that I was interested in paying to attend. I emailed them twice before getting a one-line response that did not answer my question. I tried emailing them once more but received no response. I never joined their event and they lost the sale.

I emailed a winery asking them if I could get their product in a city I would be travelling to, as I wanted to purchase a case. No response. I never purchased any of their products.  

Somebody Gets It

Now, let me now tell you about another example of customer service I experienced that started with an email message.

I contacted a local grocery store (national chain) to ask them why they put their high-end products in re-sealable bags with seals that don’t work. I was contacted through email the next day by the manager, who thanked me profusely, telling me that he would bring this matter to the attention of the national office and the bag producers. A short while later I received a second message saying that the concern had been brought to the attention of the bag producer and they were considering the situation. Shortly thereafter, I received a third message thanking me for helping to improve their products and would I please come down to the store to pick up a gift basket.

I was a little taken aback by their response (I just wanted them to fix their bags) but I went down to pick up the gift basket. When I got the basket, I found it filled with a variety of edible goods, each in its own bag WITH AN IMPROVED SEAL. And when I looked at their bagged sections, all of their goods were now in bags with improved seals! I will never stop shopping there.

Assessing the Quality of your Email-Based Customer Service

It still isn’t clear to me why I am experiencing so much trouble with emailed based customer service. Whatever the reason(s), it’s clear that some businesses are dropping the ball and that it is costing them dearly.

So, if you are running a business or are responsible for customer service or service design within your company, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have an “info@” and is someone designated to check it?
  2. Are your employees over-burdened by work/information overload and are unable to deal with what they are expected to do?
  3. Do your employees understand the negative impact of not responding to folks who send in messages through your email? Have they received any received e-customer service training?
  4. Do you undertake regular (and meaningful) quality checks on what email has come in and how customers have been dealt with?

Attracting and retaining customers can be a challenge in a highly competitive business world. By remembering that you, too, are a customer, and taking the time to reflect on what makes you happy, can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve the customer service experience.


Jonathan SharpJonathan SharpAugust 12, 2019
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10min2307

Technology is constantly delivering new methods of communication to the workplace in abundance.

There are so many different communication channels available, we often question which one is best to use and what for.  Sometimes, issues occur when we don’t question, and then use the inappropriate tools to communicate something. This can lead to misinterpretation, people may get offended or misconstrue what’s been said, or left feeling they haven’t received sufficient information.

We can all feel like we are drowning in digital communications and are consumed by the 24/7 digital noise. The norm is to respond to everything the instant we receive it and to check all social media updates and sink with FOMO if we weren’t invited to a party or even a meeting!

The objective of technology is make us more effective and productive and not hinder us. It is time to stop manic multi-tasking and thinking that everything has to be now and instant – take a step back, breath, focus, and learn to how to manage your digital communications so you become empowered by technology and not enslaved by it.

Phone: the Power of Voice

By speaking on the phone we can develop a personal connection with a person, understand their tone of voice, and talk in more depth therefore strengthening the connection. There is less margin for error or misinterpretation, and of course the advantage is also there are more opportunities for conversations on a personal level and for humour. Another benefit is trust and authenticity can be built more quickly in comparison to an email or text.

When to use it:

  • To resolve something urgently that is complex. It is often easier to get results face to over the phone as you can talk around the issues
  • When you are chasing someone – if a client or employee has been ignoring your emails and messages then pick up the phone and talk to them about it. It will be much quicker
  • There are times when you must deliver bad news or discuss something personal and empathy is required. This can only be achieved in a face to face meeting or on a phone call
  • A catch up – you have a business issue to chat through and also it’s been a while since you spoke to the person so you want to catch up with them

Email or ‘snail mail’

Email is still very much the most used communications tool in business. The issue is that you end up with a full inbox and people still copy you in on irrelevant emails. We send roughly 281.1 billion emails a day, a figure that is estimated to increase to 333.2 billion by 2022, according to Statista.

Therefore, we would expect that emails often get ignored, deleted, or end up in the junk box. Emails are not the most effective way to communicate and it is much easier to use other tools such as picking up the phone.

When to use it:

  • Sitting at your desk or on move from smartphones or tablets
  • To document conversations and activities
  • To send files

Video and audio conference calls

These tools are great when you want to speak with a group of people in another location without having to travel. With video you can read people’s body language and easily gage reactions to what you are saying.

When to use it:

  • For a team meeting to discuss a project or proposal
  • If there is an issue you can have a collective discussion
  • To screen share a document and go through it together

Instant Messaging

Conferencing and collaboration solutions contain instant messaging tools and you can see your colleagues’ presence, when they are available and when they aren’t. However, people expect an instant response and tend to ignore the ‘busy’ and ‘do not disturb’ signs.

When to use it:

  • When you need an instant answer to a question
  • You may need to talk to someone and ask them to call you when you are free. Instant messages are more intrusive than emails and are harder to ignore

Social media

Companies may use Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc to communicate to customers or other stakeholders.

When to use it:

  • To share photos or information
  • To ask questions and generate a multitude of answers
  • To answer customer complaints
  • For customer reviews

Bringing it All Together

The key is to know how and when to use the different communication tools available. Therefore using them at different times and when appropriate to improve efficiencies and productivity.

Downtime

Knowing when to switch off is vital, so if you need to focus on a piece of work or need some downtime, and don’t want to be disturbed then you could set your ‘Do Not Disturb’ or turn it all off.

Be guided by the experts

A Solutions Provider in communication solutions will advise and guide you on what communications technology you need for your business and its objectives. They will assist you with setting guidelines on how and when to use the tools, setting ‘etiquette’ rules and ‘duty of care’ policies on how to minimise interruptions utilising them to their potential.

Empower and set yourself free

Set yourself free from drowning in digital noise and instant gratification, and manage your portfolio of communication tools to empower you and not enslave you.




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