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:
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.