How you communicate to your customers is just as important as what you’re communicating to them. In other words, if you don’t speak to them via the right channel you can’t fully engage with them in meaningful ways. The sooner you recognize which channels are best for your business, the quicker you’ll see a return on your investment.
“To determine the appropriate communication channel, identify the people you want to communicate with, research how they obtain information, consider the complexity of the message you want to communicate, calculate the cost of communicating and decide whether you want the communication to be interactive,” small business expert Ian Linton suggests.
Every business is different, but there are a few channels that seem to perform well across the board. Check these out:
One channel that you should be using but may not already have in your repertoire is SMS. According to statistics, text messages have an open rate of 98 percent and nine out of ten messages are opened within three minutes.
Whether you’re a school or daycare center, church, property management firm, ecommerce company, or anything in between, the opportunity to send customer notifications via SMS is something you shouldn’t miss out on.
While written communication is fine in many circumstances, it’s definitely not a perfect solution. Communicating with customers over the phone is an effective strategy in many industries when something like email or SMS isn’t possible.
When calling your customers, remember that phone calls can be seen as somewhat intrusive. Always introduce yourself and quickly explain why you’re calling. The last thing you want to do is come across as a telemarketer or spammer.
3. Call Centers
While phone calls from your company to the customer serve one purpose, having a call center in which customers can initiate contact themselves is also critically important for seamless communication.
The key to a successful call center is responsiveness. If there’s one thing people hate about calling a 1-800 hotline, it’s the fact that they often have to spend 10 or 15 minutes waiting on hold. If you don’t have enough people to staff your call center, offer a callback feature which allows you to then call the customer when lines free up.
4. Push Notifications
For less-pressing communication, a push notification via a mobile app can be an unobtrusive way to get in touch with customers. Push notifications are great because they allow you to deliver information without totally infiltrating the customer’s space. They see a notification pop up and can deal with it when they feel the time is right.
5. Social Media
Don’t forget about social media. There are times when Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other similar platforms can be used to initiate or respond to contact. The thing you have to remember here is that most social media communication is public (unless you’re direct messaging). Only communicate information that you’re comfortable with others seeing and accessing.
Nothing can replace your traditional face-to-face interaction with customers. While face-to-face communication is more conducive to certain businesses, even ecommerce companies and remote services can find opportunities to get in front of customers – even if it means having a Skype call.
You don’t need all six of these channels in order to maintain strong communication with your customers, but it would be wise to have at least three or four of them at your disposal.
The more opportunities you have to speak with your customers – and vice versa – the stronger your relationships will be.