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Effective communication is the key to building and nurturing any relationship - be it personal or professional. Even in business, communicating with customers effectively can help you gain their loyalty - leading to repeat purchases, positive word-of-mouth, and referrals.
On the flipside though, failure to communicate well can create dissatisfaction, frustration, and a decrease in sales. And, in the day and age of social media, negative word-of-mouth from unhappy customers can spread like wildfire, tarnishing your reputation.
Regardless of the medium through which you communicate with customers, the bottom line is that it needs to be done well. In this post, we’ll take a look at some simple ways to communicate with customers effectively.
1. Pay close attention to your first impression
54% of people have stopped purchasing from companies that provided bad customer service in 2017. In 2016, it was 49%. This goes to show how important it is for you to provide good customer service. If you really want to retain your customers, gain their loyalty, and hope for repeat business, you need to step up.
A large part of your overall customer satisfaction level is derived from the first impression you give your customers when they contact you. You need to have the necessary processes in place to handle your customers’ queries quickly and efficiently. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
2. Reduce waiting time
Whether it’s over phone or email, the longer you make your customers wait, the more frustrated they’re likely to get. In fact, the lack of speed has been cited as one of the top three reasons for frustration with customer support.
So you need to have an automated system in place that routes calls to available support representatives. This system also needs to have the capabilities of informing customers about their expected wait times. Or, you can install a live chat app on your website and talk with a couple of customers simultaneously. This way you switch communication to asynchronous mode.
3. Don’t use scripted language
Scripted language is impersonal. Customers are quick to understand if you’re resorting to such responses in your conversations with them. This irks them and does not create a good experience. Make sure your support representatives have real conversations with your customers.
Here are a few things that support teams need to keep in mind when speaking to customers:
- Do not be defensive. Instead, acknowledge the problem that the customer has raised.
- Always be empathetic to your customers. They need to know that you’re understanding what they’re trying to say. Remember, a solution can take time and customers understand that. What they’re looking for at that very instant, is that you understand where they’re coming from.
- Use positive language rather than negative. For example, “Sorry, but this product is currently unavailable” sounds impersonal and negative. You can, instead, put the same thing in another way, such as, “I can see that this product will be available in a couple of weeks. Would you like me to notify you as soon as it’s available?”
- Do not use jargon. Instead, use simple and easy-to-understand terms to effectively communicate with customers. Be professional but talk to them as you would with a friend.
4. Equip your teams with the right tools
The right software can help your customer service teams be more productive and efficient at handling customer requests. For example, when someone contacts your team via phone or chat, your representative should instantly be able to pull up their records. This can include information about their purchase history or any recent interactions with your team.
How does this help? Information and insights such as these can help to give your team member some context about a customer’s issue. Suppose a customer contacts your support team to find out if there’s any update on a ticket they’d raised earlier. They would definitely not want to go through the painful process of describing their issue all over again. Instead client just wait asynchronously for agents response.
In such cases, it really helps to have all records of previous communication in front of you. The support representative can share relevant and accurate information. Lack of accuracy is one of the top reasons for customers to get frustrated with support.
LiveChat, for example, can be integrated with multiple Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools - to help you store and manage customer information efficiently. It can also be integrated with various help desk or ticketing systems like JIRA, Zendesk, or Freshdesk.
4. Effective communication in customer service: focus on quality
In a competitive environment, it’s easy to get lost in a web of metrics that are focused on quicker resolution times. Sometimes customer support teams are more focused on closing a large number of tickets in a short time.
Understand that quicker resolution does not necessarily mean a short phone call or chat. It means fully resolving a customer’s issue in the quickest possible time. 51% of customers believe that they can get the fastest resolution to their problems over the phone, followed by live chat (23%).
So, develop a team of support representatives who are more focused on engaging meaningfully with customers than hitting metrics. Train your team to be your customer’s ally and try to solve their problems effectively.
A quality customer experience is much more valuable than shorter call handling times - especially if short calls compromise on providing a satisfactory resolution or customer experience.
5. Conclude your conversations properly
Conclusions are just as important as your first impressions. Too often, support representatives are in a hurry to attend to the next ticket in line. This can ruin the experience for a customer who’s communicating with them at the moment. Your eagerness to solve one more ticket could cost you a customer.
So make sure that your representatives end their conversations well. Even if that extends the chat or call by a few minutes. Your objective should be to end the conversation in a way that leaves your customer happy and content.
Here are a few examples of conversation conclusions:
- Is there anything else I can help you with?
- Thank you so much for your time today. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any help in the future.
- I’ll be happy to email you a transcript of this chat after I close the chat window. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need any assistance.
6. Leverage content to engage customers
Content marketing is a great way of engaging both customers and prospects. 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers today use content marketing. Both B2B and B2C marketers are heavily reliant on social media posts for their content marketing. These are followed by case studies, videos, ebooks/white papers for B2B and videos, illustrations, and infographics for B2C companies.
Useful, informative, and relevant content is appreciated and valued by customers. So, in order to engage your customers meaningfully, you need to have a solid content strategy in place. This includes creating and distributing fresh content at a steady pace on your social networks, blog, and website.
A smart solution to this is to use employee communication apps. Platforms like Smarp, for example, can enable idea exchanges among your employees. You can start conversations around certain ideas and encourage your subject matter experts to share their thoughts. Your marketers can use such conversations to pick up content ideas that are unique and relevant.
7. Pay special attention to social media
You know that social media can be a blessing at times as well as a curse at others. Anything can go viral at any time, and there’s not much you can do to change it once something goes viral. And, call it human nature, but negative things have a way of getting blown out of proportion much easier than positive things.
Regardless, social media is still an integral medium for communicating with your customers. Customers not only interact with your posted content but also treat it as one of the mediums for raising their concerns. In fact, 34% of customers have used social media to ask a service related query. 47% of them even found it to be an effective channel for customer service.
So when it comes to communicating with customers on social media, you need to handle it with utmost care. There will be situations, possibly multiple ones, where an irate customer writes something nasty on social media about you. Sometimes you might be responsible for their behavior, however, at other times you may have had nothing to do with it.
Regardless, do not ignore such comments. You need to respond to all of them if you hope to control some of the damage. Try to respond to such comments as quickly as you can, before it can blow out of proportions. Any delay will only frustrate the customer even more and invite other parties to join the conversation and make matters worse.
Do not be defensive in your approach. Instead, be empathetic and show genuine concern towards their cause. Your objective should be to respond in a manner that is calming, reassuring, and to bring the conversation offline.
It helps if you are able to respond with something like this:
“We’re so sorry to hear about this unfortunate experience you’ve had with us. Please be assured that we’re doing a thorough investigation of this issue so we can resolve it at the earliest. It would be great if you can send us an email at <firstname.lastname@example.org> so we can assist you better with this.”
How will you communicate with your customers?
Most of us are naturally wired in a way that makes us look for a bit of empathy in our social interactions. If you understand this aspect of human psychology, you can communicate with your customers much better. Follow the above-mentioned techniques to create long-lasting relationships with your customers.
Can you think of any other simply ways of communicating with customers better? Let us know in the comments below.