We live in a world where big data is king. Companies are collecting greater amounts of information about their clients and customers who, in turn, are expecting a much more personalized experience. As a small business, how can your communications measure up to these new expectations? Here are some ways your business can enhance its customer communications.
Good communications are essential at every stage of your business journey. As you start a new venture, you need to communicate with your customers to hone your products or services so that they meet client needs and expectations, and can compete in the market. Over time, these needs are likely to change, and so to must your offerings. How will you know? By talking with your clients.
Business success can be made or broken by the strength of your communications. Having authentic, meaningful conversations with your customers means that you can develop a deep understanding of individual requirements. These conversations can help you to stand out from the competition by enabling you to build long-term relationships, instead of just winning one-off contracts. And, when business is quiet or services haven’t been needed for a while, they can remind your clients that you were the company that provided exactly what they needed.
In an era in which business purpose is so important – what your priorities are in terms of people and planet as well as profit – clear customer communications can also provide they assurance they need that your company is one they want to work with. Clarity and transparency –about what you identify as important, how you operate, where you source from – is becoming an essential part of any operation.
These days, communications are more than the one-way advertisements of the past. While these can still have some value, customers are now expecting to be able to engage with companies whenever they want and in an array of different manners.
Your focus should be on developing a suite of tools that can provide a good balance of one- and two-way communications. Use your website to present a clear message about what your business stands for. Use a range of social media platforms, appropriate to your business, to engage with your clients and enable them to talk directly to you. Use emails to create personalized messages or offers for your customers. And take the time to chat on the phone or in person if that is right for the situation.
Good communication isn’t rocket science! Three simple steps should stand you in good stead:
Authenticity is becoming increasingly important in a world filled with the ‘white noise’ of content, so whenever you develop any piece of communication, you need to consider a couple of questions: what are you trying to achieve? And who are you talking to?
Once you’ve established the purpose and audience, you can think about the next, more important, stage: how you’re going to communicate. The tone of voice, the words you use and the way you use them should all reflect your personality, or that of the business you’re representing. It’s this personality that will give your communications authenticity and help your customers to engage.
There’s nothing worse than not knowing when or how you’re going to receive a reply from a company you’re dealing with. One day, you might get a response within the hour; another time it might take a week or more. Or you might get completely different levels of formality, leaving you in a quandary about how to respond.
As a business that wants to attract and retain clients, make sure none of your communications lead to these levels of uncertainty. Always using your authentic voice is one way to help. Agreeing to standards about how long responses will take is another. Whatever you do, never leave your customers guessing.
Our last piece of advice is always to be open and approachable. Inviting your clients to take part in two-way conversations means that you need to welcome those levels of engagement, and encourage the conversations to develop. A good way to start this practice is to think about companies you’ve engaged with positively, and how they have responded to you. Draw on these examples of good practice to develop your own, unique approaches.
Good customer communications can find a way through the flood of information, but only if you say what you mean and mean what you say. As Sir Walter Scott stated: “fine words butter no parsnips.” So, keep your communications fresh, to the point and authentic, and remember that nothing is achieved by flattery or empty promises.
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