Communications and customers are a package deal in the business world. When we look at communications and how they link to our customers, we need to look at two facets of communication—the type of communications used and the deployment of the method chosen. Years ago, customers were satisfied to call a firm by phone and talk to a real person. That real person could assure the customer that their wishes would be fulfilled, even if, during the initial conversation, the business person could promise no more than to return the initial call with information.
Over the past two decades, technology has introduced to us many new and exciting methods of communication, such as cell phones, pagers, faxes, email, voicemail, web presence, telcons, intranets, and pda's. One would think that more must be better, as we can now make ourselves accessible in ways most convenient to a variety of customer types 24/7. Unfortunately, today's customers sometimes feel more neglected and shut out than ever before.
Emails often go unanswered when requests are made. (Note: there is no need to respond if there is nothing to say). Voicemails are used as screening devices, from which message recipients can opt to return calls as they become convenient during busy days, if those calls are answered at all. With downsizing, many workers are doing the jobs of two people instead of one. In addition, communications provide us with a plethora of messages from an abundance of sources. It's no wonder that customers feel ignored, or feel that they can't trust us to provide the services they seek.
This is where we need to look at how we are utilizing the many methods of communication with our existing and potentially new customers. This is where we can seize one opportunity after another to show our customers that they matter and that their needs will be met. Build into your communication tools automated devices that respond to the customer in a timely fashion. The response is immediate and affords the customer-service representative or executive a little more time to reply in depth. Take a look at your own business and see where you could stand to improve in this way.
Some additional activities to consider are:
1. Make it a point to check your communications messaging systems at least every two hours.
2. Make sure to respond, even if only to notify that you will be in touch within a certain period of time.
3. Realize that any communication is an opportunity for business—if not now, then in the future.
4. Use auto-responders for your email queries off your web site or email system (above).
5. Place thank you's in your web design so that customers get the sense that you care.
6. Gain the value of group communications so that multiple parties get the message and you save time.
7. Opt for CRM programs that include automated executable routines.
Again, the new ways of communicating with customers should work to your benefit. It is the way these communications are utilized that will determine whether customers are provided with quality service or not. Frequently evaluate your responses to your customers, and upgrade where necessary . You are bound to keep old customers and win new business with attention to this area.