Tips for Improving Communications With Customers
This page may contain links to Amazon.com or other sites from which I may receive commission on purchases you make after clicking on such links. Read my full Disclosure Policy
During my 10+ years in business, I’ve worked with some really great clients, but there have been a few situations that didn’t work out. I now try to avoid such situations by ensuring that I have a thorough understanding of my clients’ needs, and that they understand what I can and cannot do for them. You can do the same by applying the strategies in this week’s guest post.
Effective communication helps us understand more about our clients. It is the key to building respect and trust in our service as well as an understanding of the value we provide our clients. Effective communication, however, does not come natural for many of us, and this means taking steps to improve our current communications methods and being open to make needed changes.
To be clear, however, improved communication does not necessarily mean more communication. While more communication may be needed at times, most of us are already buried under an avalanche of messages, emails, and other forms of media. If we’re not careful, we’ll just add to all the noise. Our goal should be engaging our clients and being responsive to their needs. It isn’t difficult, but it will take some conscious effort.
Start by Listening
The best communicators never start with their own message. They begin by finding out what their audience expects to hear. Gaining real customer insight is a critical component of the process, and there are many tools and strategies that can help you do just that.
What drives and motivates your customers? What do they already know about you? How much of it is misinformation? Find out what generates customer satisfaction and what they understand about organization. Use that information to reach your clients in a more effective way. Don’t stop there, though. If your clients have shared these kinds of opinions, let them know they were heard and understood.
Ask Specific Questions
When done properly, feedback can be very helpful. There are countless examples of services that are greatly improved because of insightful suggestions from clients. However, questions like “What don’t you understand about this?” will not provide the kind of information you need to improve.
It is okay to directly ask your clients for help and suggestions about what they expect from you, but you need to be specific. Ask questions such as “How did [a specific suggestion] improve your organization?” or “What part of the plan needs to be clearer?” Don’t ask yes or no questions, but do set limits on the responses.
The shotgun approach to communication never works. Don’t throw your answers out there in a great big mass and hope you hit something. Just like everything else, the methods you use to gather customer insight and develop strategies needs to be carefully organized.
As information comes in, whether it’s from a survey, customer responses/complaints, web analytics, or sales figures, it has to be integrated into everything you do. You need to turn this information into an actionable strategy that provides measurable results, so you need to know what is working and when. You have to be ready to act on relevant information, and it all has to be readily available so you can make the best decisions possible.
The larger a company grows, the more people, opinions, and departments it will have. Despite this, the service you offer should always present a clear, unified message. Communications can get difficult if one person is saying something completely different than the rest of the company. Just like parenting, you don’t want to send a mixed message.
Identify ways that you can bring the entire company together and deliver the most effective messaging. This means you’ll have to work on your communications with each other while you improve your efforts with clients.
Always Review and Change
Don’t assume you’ve got this communication thing nailed just because things have been going well for the last month or so. There are always new ways to engage with customers or reach out to new people. You can make the most of your efforts by collecting actionable insights into every customer and being ready to change your strategies based on the new information you gather.
Photo © Depositphotos.com / Yuri_Arcurs