How To Make Communication With Customers A Two-Way Street

These days, your customers can talk about your business and their experience in more forms than ever before. From old-fashioned word of mouth to online reviews, the options are vast. So it’s increasingly important for businesses to create two-way communication and win the admiration of consumers.

This helps drive the narrative surrounding your company, products, and customer service. It also makes receiving feedback and implementing change that much easier. Here are a few ways to get the ball rolling and create a dialogue with your customer base.

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1. Streamline Customer Communication

As with expressing their opinions about your business, customers today also have more options for reaching out to you. From email and phone calls to brick-and-mortar visits and chat functions, it’s a lot to keep track of. Luckily, there are tools available that can help streamline your customer communication approach. Customer relationship management software is a great first step.

A CRM tool organizes your customer data to create unique profiles that are easily searchable. You’ll have a customer’s contact information readily available, know how frequently they’ve reached out, and be aware of issues they’ve had in the past. When a customer contacts you, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge you need to best serve them.

But the impact doesn’t end there. A CRM for small businesses can also help improve personalization efforts while keeping customer data secure. You can customize promotional messages, send notifications via the customer’s preferred channels, and keep all their messages — whatever the medium — in one inbox. Meanwhile, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that everything is safely stored and protected from data breaches.

2. Practice Active Listening

When you feel frustrated and are offloading onto a loved one, you feel vulnerable. You may be seeking a sounding board to help you learn how to navigate your issue. Or maybe you just want to vent.

Either way, the point of telling them your problem is for them to listen. If you’re mid-story and notice they’re looking at their phone, you’re not likely to feel any better — or feel very kindly toward them.

The same can be said of customers sharing feedback about your business. If they don’t sense they’re being heard, any fond feeling they had for your brand will diminish or disappear completely. Sound like a problem? It is. Fortunately, you can avoid it by actively listening to your customers.

Whether they contact you by email, phone, or on social media, strive to understand their concerns and empathize with them. Get the context surrounding any problems they’ve experienced and fully grasp that information.

Then you’ll be in the best place possible to address their issues. Active listening will reassure your customers that their opinions matter. You’ll improve brand affinity as customers will feel respected — because you took the time to hear them out.

3. Incorporate Change From Feedback

The journey of two-way communication doesn’t end after you’ve actively listened to feedback from customers. The way to close the loop and ensure your customers feel like their feedback matters is by implementing change.

You need to show that you heard what they had to say and took action to make your business better. After all, getting the same complaints repeatedly and doing nothing to resolve them is a risky way to do business.

Take a look at your documented pieces of feedback, then prioritize what changes you can make. The order in which you tackle things will depend on factors like the time investment involved and the impact on the bottom line.

For instance, if your online payment system fails more frequently than it works, that’s a big issue. It will take a significant amount of time and money to fix, but your profitability depends on it.

In contrast, the fact that several customers dislike the font on your home page isn’t such a bottom-line priority. Changing it can probably wait unless the time investment is so slight that you can count it a quick win.

Some changes may not be in the best interest of your business, and that’s OK. But make an effort to explain to customers why you can’t make the suggested changes so they won’t feel like they’re being ignored.

4. Make Communication Personalized

Generic language addressed to a broad audience used to be sufficient for customer communication. As long as you had the basics covered, everyone was happy. Today, customers overwhelmingly expect personalization in their experiences with brands. In fact, 84% of consumers said they’d spend more with brands that offer personalized customer service. If your business doesn’t, you risk coming across as impersonal and having less pull in the marketplace.

So think of ways your business can interact with customers in a meaningful fashion. Birthday emails — especially those featuring discounts or free offers — are a nice way to build affinity.

Personalizing the shopping experience by sharing relevant purchase suggestions can help with decision-making. Maybe providing exclusive benefits for VIP customers is the way to go.

Whichever tactics you choose, the key is to make doing business with you feel less cookie-cutter. Your customers will feel like they’re more than a number to your business, and consequently, they’ll enjoy buying from you more. Win-win.

Happier, More Satisfied Customers

At the end of the day, your business can’t be for everyone. There will always be naysayers who find something about your product, service, or website unappealing. Don’t sweat it. It’s more important that your core customers and likely future ones feel supported. They are, after all, the heart of your business.

Do your best by them by embracing two-way communication. Take their feedback into consideration and aim to improve continuously. Personalize communication whenever possible to establish a strong customer experience. If you do those things, you and your business can turn mere purchasers into longtime loyalists.

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