Communication is the cornerstone to building lasting and worthwhile relationships, whether that’s with customers, suppliers or staff.
Good communication filters into customer service, how you handle and process problems, and is one way you can go the extra mile. It doesn’t require massive overhaul either but can be something you easily introduce day by day.
For both your business and the customer, there are several reasons you should strive for better communication.
Good communication is part of the overall experience for the customer. It sets the tone and makes you more accessible. If your customers have a positive experience that can easily lead to recommendations and sales which is good for your bottom line.
Even if you have a very complex business model, good communication can help your customers understand what you sell. And if they can understand what you have to offer and clearly see the benefits, then they could be more likely to buy from you.
Good customer communication could help turn an initial negative experience into a positive one. By taking the time to listen and understand the problem, you could be in a better position to offer up a solution which hopefully satisfies the customer. Even if you don’t have the right answer, your willingness to help and listen could go a long way.
One of the most important parts of customer communication, is listening. Let your customers finish what they have to say before you respond. This will help to make them feel valued and understood and will demonstrate your eagerness to help. It could also give you the opportunity to understand what they need, so you can resolve the issue efficiently.
You shouldn’t underestimate the power of a good first impression. If you interact with customers face-to-face greet them warmly but also have the intuition to sense when they want to be left alone. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they want some help but if the response is no, let them know where they can find you if they need you. This will help you come across as approachable and helpful.
While scripts can be helpful at times, you should by no means only rely on that. Scripts can be useful in outlining how to handle different enquiries but you should always talk to your customers like they’re human beings. Try to personalise the conversation as much as you can and talk to them in the same way you would expect to be spoken to.
Be as positive as you can. We don’t mean in terms of attitude (although positivity definitely isn’t a bad thing!) but rather the language you use. If you can’t help a customer, offer an alternative. If they’ve been waiting for a while for your assistance, thank them for their patience instead of just apologising. Try and spin every interaction into a positive one.
Even if you have a bricks-and-mortar shop and deal with face to face enquiries, there are a range of customer communication channels you can put to good use.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for customer service as well as keeping people updated on your business. Existing and prospective customers can use the social media platform to communicate with you through direct messages, writing on your profile or by using Facebook’s chat function.
Email marketing platforms are a great way for you to regularly stay in touch with your customers. This might be more of a one sided conversation, but you can always use email to direct customers to leave reviews, or even send out surveys.
You could also set up a dedicated customer service email address. It’s important to stay on top of emails though and response times are important; you don’t want customers to feel left in the lurch. One way to help with this is to set up an automatic response that makes it clear when customers can expect a response so that they know their email has been received.
A CRM enables you to store customer information like order number and contact details. This is useful if a customer calls with a problem as you can easily and readily access their information. Many CRMs can be integrated with point of sale systems as well as online forms and some work with live chats too.
A CRM isn’t essential straight away but as your business grows, you may find it increasingly useful.
AI is becoming more and more accessible to SMEs and has the potential to provide businesses with a better, or more personalised service without a human presence. Tools such as website ‘chatbots’ could make improvements to your communication and customer care offering. Chatbots use a machine learning algorithm to easily answer any queries a website user may have, meaning you an offer great customer service without always needing a physical presence. You can find out about how AI can help your business by heading over to our blog.
Good customer communication skills are something you can put into practice straight away. The better communication, the better the customer service and experience and, hopefully, the better your bottom line.