Every strong relationship is built on good communication. That doesn’t have to mean continuously checking in on each other, but rather maintaining an ongoing connection.
It’s also about being thoughtful – making someone feel valued and appreciated and letting them know what to expect, especially if plans change.
All these qualities apply to businesses and their relationships with customers. Without strong and appropriate communication – the kind of nurturing that shows that a company cares and that it’s sorry when something goes wrong – relationships can drift, sour and fall apart.
If a competitor starts to woo that customer in the meantime, giving them the kind of attention they now miss from their current provider, it’s all too easy for new relationships to form and for once-loyal customers to stray.
Keeping in digital contact
In a digital world, there are all kinds of opportunities to maintain good customer communications. From personalised newsletters by email and text updates about orders and payments, to special ‘thank you’ offers via mobile apps, there are countless unobtrusive ways that companies can keep investing in relationships to keep them healthy and alive.
Customers don’t just want you to respond to their requirements; a top customer experience means proactively predicting needs in advance. For example, checking in with a customer when an important date is approaching to see what you can do for them – this can make all the difference in the perception of your brand versus your competitors.
Empathy & the pandemic
Digital channels have come into their own during the pandemic, as other options have become less available to customers – branches closed, phone lines overwhelmed.
But this shouldn’t mean fewer personal interactions. In fact, empathy is especially important if companies want to retain their ‘bond’ with customers and help them stay positive during this anxious time.
Over the last year, banks, insurance companies and utility companies have offered proactive help with bills: COVID-19 has shone a light on who the real leaders are.
Supermarkets and their communities, meanwhile, have used social media to drive donations for food banks as the number of families in need has risen.
Three tips for cementing connections
Here are three digital communication opportunities to explore further – whether your business is reassuring customers during the ongoing pandemic or simply looking for new ways to keep customer relationships alive:
If you’re making changes to your products, services or customer experiences, let people know. If you’re worried about overusing email or text, use social media to get the message across.
If there have been some problems with services or supply lately, use the opportunity to reconnect with customers. Acknowledge the problems, apologise and tell them how you’re putting things right – and what great things are coming their way.
Show customers how well you know and understand them. Remind them of the experiences you’ve shared, how long you’ve been together, how much they mean to you, new ways you can help them and your commitment to an even brighter future.
Digital relationships leave a digital footprint
Digital channels aren’t just a good way to reach people conveniently, wherever they are. With CRM systems and automated alerts, the digital realm makes it easier to create closer and more personalised relationships with customers – even if there are millions.
IT systems can keep track of preferences, buying habits and important dates and milestones, so marketing and customer care teams know what to say to customers and when.
‘Noticing’ that customers haven’t accessed an account for a while, or have been slow to pay a bill, for instance, could be a sign that money is tight or that they’re facing challenges. At a delicate time, an automatic alert could prompt the company to reach out with some tailored advice or a link to help designed for special circumstances.
Staying available to customers
Being a good communicator is also about being readily available to customers when they need to get in touch. There’s not much point investing extensively in great marketing if an interested customer can’t then get through to the relevant team for more information.
If high volumes of requests are overwhelming your contact centre, consider investing in a digital assistant feature – like TOBi, which helps hundreds of thousands of customers a month with their queries.
Intelligent agents have the added advantage of freeing up your skilled people to help customers with more complex needs.
Other important steps include integrating your company’s different communications channels so customers can move between them as needed, knowing the insight into their account isn’t lost if they hop channels.