Communicating With The Always-Connected Customer

Remember the days when billboards, direct mailings and television commercials were the major tools in marketing and advertising? Now, we’re all bombarded with brand messaging while playing games on our phones, embedded in articles we read online and even on screens while riding in a taxi. 

Companies must not only select the best way to reach their customers among countless platforms, but they must do so in a way that grabs the attention of those talking on their phones while typing an email, and, sometimes, while watching TV. So while customers are more connected than ever, they are also more distracted, too. How, then, should companies focus their communication efforts on consumers they may be very unfocused? 

Here are three tips to draw customers’ heads away from their emails and take notice of your communication efforts:

Real-time outreach 

One of the main reasons your customers have a smartphone, tablet and laptop within reach at all times is for instant, immediate access to information. Therefore, why shouldn’t you offer your customers the same kind of real-time information and opportunity for discussion? 

Customers like to know their questions, concerns and feedback are answered and received just as quickly as they are issued. Customer service live chats, staff dedicated to promptly responding to Twitter and Facebook messages as well as video communication options all let customers know that they are a priority, that you are available to communicate and that their inquiries can be addressed now -- not in one to two business days or after 10 minutes listening to hold music. 

Maybe our patience levels have diminished as more tech tools are introduced, but we don’t want to wait. If we do, we will easily move on to the next product or service that can supply the immediacy we need or at least want. 

If your customers want to get in touch with you, shouldn’t you make it as easy for them as possible? This is an amazing opportunity to communicate with your clients about special offers or extended services. They are taking the initiative to speak with you, so make the most of these interactions. 

Out-of-the-box, personalized approach 

We all know the value of personalizing our client communication, but are we really showing our customers that we know them or recognize their needs? Including their name in an email blast certainly does not make them feel special.  

When was the last time you sent one of your clients a thank you? When was the last time you had a conversation with them beyond a status update? When was the last time you met for coffee or a drink or sent them something beyond a tchotchke?  Without trying to sound like Jerry Maguire, isn’t it more important to establish a meaningful, memorable client relationship? 

For instance, I once mentioned to a team I was working with (and still am) that my favorite beer was Shiner from Texas. The next time we had a face-to-face meeting, they brought me a 12-pack with a bow. It’s something that was unexpected, unnecessary, but it certainly was a gesture that didn’t go unrecognized. It made them stand out. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have the budget to build in all of these client extras. It’s not about sending gifts. It’s about taking the time to meet with your clients, listen to their needs and find out more about them, so you can truly tailor your communication, products and services specifically to them. Plus, the more memorable you become to your client, the less likely they are to entertain the idea of working with one of your competitors. 

Market without marketing 

If you’re like me, your inbox is inundated with emails from brands that you love, others that you like and some you don’t even know. Although you want to receive email communication, news and special offers, the volume of emails is overwhelming, and you’re two steps away from unsubscribing to everything. 

As they say, sometimes less is more. Customers are already distracted by the various communication channels they have to tend to every day -- Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, Twitter -- and they don’t need to be bombarded by your company’s email communication (which probably is generic and not personalized -- see above). If your customer’s communication filter doesn’t mark your blasted emails as spam, your client likely will. 

People don’t want to feel like they are part of a marketing campaign, so only send emails or make calls to clients when it is extremely relevant to helping their business or maintaining a successful working relationship. Also, when you’re issuing emails or making calls, ensure the communication is pointed and  pertinent.  Special discounts, fun videos or insider tips are all ways to help secure a few minutes of talk time and/or boosted product/service inquiries. 

Many times, companies are so eager to share their organization’s news and messaging, they forget how they like brands to communicate with them. I don’t think any of us like nondescript emails or seeing a phone number repeatedly on our caller ID. Stalking and blanket messaging don’t engage customers. So the next time you’re ready to contact a client, consider how you can make the communication simpler, more personalized or if the message really needs to be relayed at all. 

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3 comments about "Communicating With The Always-Connected Customer ".
  1. Robi Ganguly from Apptentive , January 2, 2013 at 7:55 p.m.
    Dan, you make some great points here, thanks for sharing! Of particular importance to me is the idea that all companies need to really be thinking about how to get more personal and special in your communications. With the numerous routes to learning more about your customers and an incredible set of opportunities presented to actually interact with the mobile consumer, the real challenge is to stand out. It's inevitable that most companies will take a "one size fits all" approach and send out email blasts, notifications and text messages to large groups. However, those companies who take the time to invest in getting more individual messaging and to create more personal relationships will end up winning - any advice on how to do so? In the mobile space, we're seeing companies have great success from some simple proactive outreach and being great at listening, but I'd be curious about what you're seeing that is starting to work well. Thanks! Robi
  2. Dan Roche from TalkPoint , January 23, 2013 at 11:02 a.m.
    Thanks for the feedback. I think one of the biggest hurdles right now is to set the right expectations. Like you mention, we have access to so much information about our existing and potential customers. We all need to learn everything we can about our target prospects and hit them with custom content. I think the days of spray hitting everyone are over. You not only need to learn about your prospects, but you also need to 'give' them something. Case studies, segmented information, involvement in charitable work, etc. It's all about creating the connection. You need them to follow you. 75%+ of the sales process is completed by the time you get to talk to them. You need to keep your image, brand and reputation on point.
  3. Robi Ganguly from Apptentive , January 23, 2013 at 11:58 a.m.
    Dan, thanks for responding. I think that makes a lot of sense in the B2B scenarios - what about B2C? How do you share custom content at scale? What about the value of basic communication and relationship-building - is that custom content? Like you said, "creating the connection" is key, do you focus on consumer-oriented content or take a page from the Starbucks playbook and make sure that each employee is creating connections?