For every business, effective communication with customers is a must-have and can mean the difference between a start-up booming into a matured, well-established business or ending up among a mass of failed projects. Now, with just 10 per cent of start-up businesses likely to succeed*, customer relationships, whether existing or potential, have never been so important. So why are plenty of brands still facing a number of barriers when it comes to engaging with people, and what can they be doing to ensure these hurdles don’t get in the way of turning their business from start-up to success?
Don’t think in channels – think in messages
If we rewind five years, like everything else, customer relationships followed a very different suit. When customers wanted to engage directly with a brand or business they would spend their time on hold or listening to automated consultants run through a predetermined script. However, times have changed and thanks to the development of technologies and platforms, both customers and businesses can connect and communicate in a variety of ways, across a variety of channels. Whether on social media, via live chat or using feedback surveys, people are now highly demanding and plenty of businesses are feeling the additional pressure this new era of customer empowerment brings.
One common mistake businesses are guilty of when it comes to customer engagement is placing too much emphasis on the way in which they’re delivering the message that they miss the importance of perfecting the message itself. Unlike brands, customers don’t think about engagement in terms of channels they simply want the information they’re seeking simply, succinctly and as soon as possible.
Let’s take social media as an example; platforms such as Twitter have given businesses an opportunity to react to customers in a much shorter time-frame and in a very direct way. Although this method of communication will have certain differences and limitations compared to perhaps a feedback survey (140 characters is less than you think!), ultimately the message you will be sharing with a customer should always remain the same.
Always be personable where possible
The advancement of smart phones has created a new era of customers – an army of people that have a bank of knowledge available to them at the click of a button. Not only does this mean that customers are a lot more in-the-know than before, it means that they’re clued-up enough to realise when a brand’s engagement isn’t quite ‘up-to-scratch’.
Many of the engagement barriers businesses are currently facing have a lot to do with the misunderstanding or miscommunication of information. This is one hindrance of straying away from traditional methods such as on-the-phone customer service representatives. Pretty much the purest form of communication, having designated phone-handlers gives a brand the ability to not only deal with customer queries and problems, but allows them to convey true emotion and tone – a factor that remains absolutely essential for a business of any size.
Throughout a company’s journey from start-up to success and as technologies and methods continue to expand at exponential rates, the customer service industry is going to carry on changing, forcing companies to do the same or risk falling behind. However no matter what the channel, business should ensure they’re not straying too far away from their original brand values and messaging. The best companies are those that are able to remain savvy, creating swift and concise customer engagement which puts their customers first.