We all have that one example of terrible customer service.
79% of consumers say they need a brand to understand them before they’ll engage. Your customers don’t want you to treat them like data on a spreadsheet. They want you to treat them like people. Get it right, and the rewards are huge.
Below, we’ve put together 5 ways you can improve your customer communication skills.
Learn to Listen
As in most areas of communication, learning to listen is one of the most effective paths to better customer communication.
Don’t presume to know what your customers want. You may be the one running the show, but ultimately your business succeeds or fails based on your customer satisfaction.
Listening to your customers can sometimes completely overturn your assumptions about your industry and market. Try to clear out your own biases and then open your mind to the things your customers say.
Be wary of reacting with your gut to anything, even if you feel like it’s a positive step. Don’t be afraid to let feedback sink in before you act on it.
Listening is a semi-active process. You need to do more than hear the words, you need to process them. Let the voices of your customers guide your internal discussions.
Asking questions is a great way to show you’re listening. If you see a frequent opinion pop up on social media, lean into it. Ask your customers what they’d like to see, or what their opinion was on a certain topic, and listen to the results.
Create Easy Feedback Channels
There’s no path to customer communication when customers struggle to get in touch.
Creating easy feedback channels increases communication, both positive and negative. And you need both of these things to develop your business.
Give customers an easy way to reach you through your website, such as email or phone. Give them the opportunity to leave reviews, and engage with them on social media. The more paths to communication, the better your dialogue will be.
Social media, in particular, provides a great medium for real-time dialogue, while also presenting it in a manageable format.
Many companies still struggle to overcome this communication barrier. If you can manage this step, you’ll have a huge advantage over your competitors. Not only will you have an idea of what your customers want, but you’ll also get a lot more reviews and testimonials to show off.
Don’t be afraid to follow up with your customers, either. Customers are used to a passive purchasing experience. By following up, you show you care about more than just a sale.
It’s never nice to receive negative feedback. But there’s a massive difference between negative feedback and a personal insult.
Customers rarely intend their feedback as a personal comment, even when it sounds that way. Usually, feelings of this sort emerge from dissatisfaction. It’s up to you to take the professional high road and accept feedback as a business, not a person.
That means putting aside your feelings to understand the realities of what your customers are saying. Don’t retaliate and retort. Acknowledge that you’ve heard the concerns, and engage with customers as a business first.
That doesn’t mean you can’t put a human face on things. It can aid communication if customers can see the people behind the brand. But be wary of lashing out or responding reflexively to anything your customers say.
Ideally, look to engage with customers in semi-controlled environments. This creates a natural dialogue between individuals while still maintaining the professional barrier. A Q&A session, for instance, is a great way to achieve this.
In the unlucky event, one of your employees damages communication, work fast to fix it and distance their views from the voice of the brand.
Show Your Workings
Customers quickly lose interest in communication when it doesn’t seem to result in change.
If you want to promote customer communication, you need to show you’re listening. Take actions relating to customer feedback, and don’t be afraid to explain your reasons.
Perhaps you can’t take action straight away. Even so, try discussing your next moves and revealing plans for the future. Anything you can do to show your customers you’re listening will aid communication.
Consider providing regular updates on a project. Even a small acknowledgment of the feedback you’ve received can go a long way.
You can also involve your customers at multiple points along the way. Doing this shows customers that you’re listening even when you’re committed to a project. As we mentioned earlier, you might end up surprised with some of the feedback you receive.
Show You Care
Customers have a sixth sense for when companies are being insincere. It’s not enough to pretend you’re listening and make token gestures.
Don’t hold your customers in contempt. You have them to thank for any success your business has enjoyed. Learn to appreciate each customer on an individual level.
You should also be grateful that your customer has used their time to engage with you. Customers don’t get much out of leaving feedback, so they’re showing they feel passionate enough to spend that time with you.
When you learn to care about your customers, you’ll discover customer communication naturally follows. It’ll also make it a lot easier to see things from your customers’ point of view.
This isn’t hard to do if you draw from your own experiences. As we said before, we all have that one story about bad customer service. Remember how you felt at that time, and understand that your customers might feel the same way.
Develop Your Customer Communication
Improving your customer communication skills won’t happen overnight. But by following the simple tips above, you can start to change the way you interact with your customers.
You’ll often find they respond in kind and begin to open up to you. That two-way dialogue will drive further customer communication.
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