When it comes to customer service, communication, effective customer communication, that is, is of utmost importance. Whatever their concern is, the goal of the business should be to minimize the negative impact and frustration, ultimately causing them to stop doing business with the company. The outcome should be a customer satisfied with the resolution or if not, satisfied with the follow-up steps to reach a resolution.
Your representatives should have all the training and confidence they need to carry out the job they were trained for to communicate clearly and effectively with your customers. Although communication is something we do almost all the hours of each day, customer communication is more intricate and detailed because it serves a purpose and aims to accomplish something for the company and customer. And so, here are 7 effective communication strategies.
What is customer communication management?
Customer communication management or CCM is the process and act of delivering targeted brand messaging and customer support across all channels. We say “targeted” because the key points usually discussed in these messages are derived from studies made on your customers' pain points based on your research.
Customer communication management (CCM) works well for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) ventures. Messages should be designed to offer solutions, look and feel personalized and effective. With all that said, here are the 7 effective customer communication strategies.
1. Make it personal
It can be very frustrating for a customer who is trying to contact you to be passed around the automated messaging switchboard. By the time they actually have a live person on the other end, their tempers will be frayed and can easily snap. Then, it would be too late to turn their mood around, no matter what resolution you offer. There's something about the comfort that another human being brings regardless of the interaction taking place in person, over the phone, via live chat or email. Knowing you're with someone with feelings, concerns, and potentially the same views as you makes things less daunting.
Regardless of their mood or concern, make the interaction personal by introducing yourself by name and using the customer's name, when possible. Although you may be reading off a script or using a template, make your questions and statements come across as sincere and genuine – which would not be difficult since you want to help them out anyway. Be willing to help without sounding overeager. You might have a guide to follow or a model to copy, you can inject your own personality and energy into the customer communication.
2. Keep it positive
Although your customer communication management (CCM) plan outlines talking about the needs of your customers, you can always keep the tone of the correspondence positive. Keep the tone upbeat by eliminating negative words like “can't or “won't”. Rephrase sentences that contain these words to make them sound better even though they essentially end up saying the same thing.
Even if you're turning down a request or delivering news that may not be viewed as pleasant, you can compose your declarations so your customer will be able to digest them easily. For example, you might not be the right person to help them but you know who can and you can endorse them to that person. Or, you might not be able to give them a discount now but you can collect their information to add to a list for when you do have discount codes or vouchers to give out.
A lot of people, for some time, have been supplanting empathy with apologies, and the two could not be more different from one another. You apologize for something that you did when you're at fault. Empathizing is defined as putting yourself in the customer's shoes, which is not always as easy to do as it sounds. Making empathy a part of your customer communication strategies shows your customers that you're not just going through the motions and that you actually care.
For example, your customer is complaining about the time it takes to deliver their order. Although you know it's a standard and there's nothing you can do about it, you can still empathize. As a consumer, you know how it feels to be made to wait for something that you've already paid for. You can verbalize this experience to show the customer that you empathize with their situation. As always, end your statement on a positive note by saying something like: “I'm here to make sure you won't have to wait longer than necessary.”
4. Listen actively
When you're with a customer, you're most likely doing other things at the same time like looking for a solution for their concern or checking on their account. Multitasking as one of the customer service communication skills is not really a bad thing. That is, as long as you do it properly. Even if you're doing something else while they're talking or ranting, be sure to listen actively.
This means processing what they're saying so you can use the information you're able to gather to find a workable fix for their problem. This takes practice but can be very effective customer communication. Once your customer knows and feels that you are listening to them, they'll feel appeased and pleased with your company.
5. Advocate the brand
Effective customer communication means using words that are particular to your brand that your customers will understand. This is where knowledge of the ins and outs of your brand, product, and/or services can make a big impact on the alternatives you can offer along with the solution and follow-up. Take your cue from your website when it comes to identifying words and phrases that you can use in your communication.
It's worth mentioning that you should avoid using jargon or words that you know would be foreign to your customers. The words that you use, along with the delivery, helps the customer associate the positive experience with your brand, creating a pleasant and positive recall.
6. Build rapport
Even when your customer is coming to you with a problem, you should always take the time to build rapport with them to show them that you understand them as another person would. Building rapport with them as part of your customer communication management (CCM) will be helpful in creating a bond of trust and cementing your relationship with the customer.
Building rapport can be as easy as letting them speak and get it all out, repeating the important points that they mentioned, and asking them if there's anything else they need from you after you've solved their issue. Inviting them to reach out to your company again as soon as they need to, is also part of rapport building with customers included in effective customer communication.
7. Be clear and concise
Nothing can aggravate an already frustrated customer than being asked to jump through hoops and loops to get their problem solved. Effective customer communication means being clear with your customers and concise when delivering the final outcome. Use words that are easy to understand and get to the point as soon as you can, especially if you know that the customer has been waiting and making follow-ups for some time already.
Seeing to it that the number of contacts or interactions needed for the customer to find a resolution to their problem is also part of being clear and concise. Include it in your customer communication strategies. If you can shorten the journey for the better, do it, if only to show your customers that you have a team that's efficient and effective at what they do.
The final resolution
Coming up with a list of effective customer communication strategies is a lot easier than you'd expect. After all, we're all consumers and have needed assistance one time or another. There's a great chance that worked or works for you will do a great job for your customers as well. That's what customer communication really is: understanding what the customer needs and using what you have in your company to give them what they need.
The other important point is to make sure you have a team that understands what effective customer communication means to you and how much it means to you so they can deliver only the best time after time to your customers. This is the only way you'll be able to ensure that your customers will continue to trust and support your brand.