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The Voice – Communicating Better with Customers

Take a look at our tips on better communication with customers, from writing the right way to website content tips, see why it pays to communicate.

No matter how big or small your business may be, communication is one of the most important factors to getting potential customers coming in and keeping existing customers coming back. Take a look at our tips on better communication with customers, from writing the right way to website content tips, see why it pays to communicate.

Quality over Quantity

Arguably the most important aspect of any communication with customers that you’re engaging in is the quality of communication. People in this day and age are time poor and want to know that what they’re reading or hearing is actually worth their time. Before sending anything out to your customers, take a step back and ask yourself what kind of value your customers are going to receive from the emails, phone calls, collateral, events and webinars or social media posts you’re about to carry out. Can you make them more concise, while still maintaining all the important information you want to get across? Are you using the right language and is the message relevant to the customer reading it?

Speaking Their language

When writing your communications, think about the type of language you’re using and how your audience is going to relate to it. You may be quite the wordsmith with an extensive vocabulary, but if your audience doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it’s wasted time for you and for them. Similarly, using lingo that’s common within your business might not be so common outside of it, so be mindful of how your audience communicates with you and mirror this back to them.

Target Practice

Whether it’s sending out marketing emails, social media posts or asking for feedback, you want to be targeting the right communications out to the right audience. For example, you wouldn’t send a prospecting email out to an active customer or send a customer satisfaction survey to someone who’s asked not to be contacted. This is where it’s important to know your customer and send your communications to the appropriate contacts.

Having a good CRM system to manage your customer’s details and preferences can make this an easy task. When also integrating email functionality, it can further bring together email automation and scheduling for your messages to go out to right contacts at the right times with the right message for them.

Too Easy Templates

Templates are great for providing consistency across communications and are often used for newsletters or emails which re-use a lot of common content each time they’re sent out. By setting up templates, you can make sure the addressing, formatting and common content stays the same and therefore allow you to spend more time writing the variable content. And regardless who sends out the communication from your company, it will always remain consistent in language, look and feel.

If you’re using a good software solution, you can specify dynamic fields such as your customer’s name or job title to fill automatically on sending the email or newsletter out. This could even be used to show the date of a customer’s last purchase or a “Thanks for being our customer since 2009” message, as an example.

Set the Standards

Standard response times can be a great way to provides consistency to your communications and remind your customers that you’re not just talking at them, but listening and engaging in conversations in a timely manner. You can start by doing a review of the communication channels you’re currently using and deciding what guidelines are most appropriate for each channel.

Emails, for example, may need to be responded to within 24 hours, whereas for social media comments you want to have a much quicker response. Setting the standards will also help your employees prioritise the urgency of communications and develop consistency.

You can also look at setting up email auto replies to acknowledge customer emails coming through, set an expectation for response times up front, and reassure your customer their query is being worked on.

The Vault

Keeping your emails in a central location and accessible by all your employees can be a real benefit. There’s nothing worse than emailing a customer to ask if they still require a special order-in product and finding out they’ve already replied to your colleague an hour ago to confirm. Having transparency across your business can make a huge difference when communicating with customers. Does your current system enable you to keep a log of emails, phone calls and other notes against one, central customer record?

It’s also important to see a full history before communicating with customers and know that you have the full story and background. Having an informed exchange with your customers reminds them you’re valuing their time and won’t waste it by asking questions they’ve already answered.

Get Social

It’s becoming increasingly important to have a social media presence and strategy. If you’re already communicating via social media, have a look at the length and style of your posts. Ideally your message should be concise, clearly state what it’s about within the first few words and appeal to your target audience. What are the subjects and issues that your customers are interested in? What matters to them? To get people reading and sharing your social posts, you’ll want to keep it relevant to them.

Also think about the imagery or videos you’re including to support your social posts. Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets as just one example of how this can boost interaction (source).

And remember, customers are spending their precious time in reading what you’ve posted so make sure it’s absolutely worth their time. Is what you’re posting able to help them in some way or save them time? The goal of any social media activity should be to provide value to your customers; just as JCurve aim to do with our own social channels, such as our LinkedIn page.

It’s All in the Timing

You might have just written the most interesting, informative email or social media post, but if you’re going to post it on Christmas Eve, is anyone going to read it? OK, so that’s an extreme scenario, but in general, sending an email to customers about your new promotion early on a Monday morning isn’t as likely to get noticed as a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Different social media platforms will also have different peak times and may also depend on your type of customer. A business owner reading your social post may be doing so on around lunch time or when they’ve arrived home, for example, whereas a stay-at-home parent may be more likely to read it mid-morning.

That’s why it’s important to know the customers you’re communicating with and work on getting your timing right. There’s a wealth of information and statistics on peak times for both email and social marketing communications, but you may also want to develop and keep track of your own experiences. A good ERP system which includes marketing automation functionality should let you see the email open and click through rates for your campaigns. Many social platforms will also provide analytics to help understand the activity and interest in what you’re posting.

Don’t Let Them Sail Away

Your website can often be the first place potential customers will go to find information on your company and make contact with you. What are the key messages you’re promoting on your site? Have you concisely answered in the first few words what your company actually does? Have you also included information to let potential customers know what issues you’re aiming to solve for them? If not, you may find that someone looking at your site isn’t going to spend a lot of time there and sail away to the next site.

When it comes to your website content, it’s a good idea to get some unbiased opinions from people who don’t work within your company. Ask them what they think of your company just by looking at your site and whether it makes sense from their point of view. You might be surprised with how many improvement ideas you can gain from getting a different perspective.

Staying Committed

Whether it’s email, social media posts or your website itself, one of the biggest factors in making your communications successful is your commitment. If you’ve started up a Facebook page, commit to making regular updates so that your customers know they can always see fresh, relevant information there. If you decide that a monthly newsletter is the right medium to get updates to your customers, make sure it goes out monthly and stick to a defined schedule. Or if your website is your choice for updates and information, make it part of business process to have a monthly review and keep the content fresh.

Keep in mind the standards you’ve put in place for response times or templates for communications and keep everyone in your company on the same page with what’s required. The more committed you are to keeping consistent, quality communications going out to your customers, the more likely they are to continue buying from you.

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