Customer.customer.customer. It’s front of mind and at the heart of what marketers focus on day in and day out. Building a brand and a company would mean very little if you weren’t benefiting someone (hopefully many people) along the way. The last few years have brought customer-centric marketing strategy to the forefront, and the BigDoor team couldn’t be happier.
Every day, we think, “How can we help companies connect and appreciate their customers?” We believe so strongly in reciprocal loyalty that we spend our days building a technology centered around brands giving back to their customers (it’s isn’t all work, btw…the other day we had fun with dots!).
Something that sticks out time and time again is the challenge brands face when trying to communicate with their customers. Customer conversations aren’t easy ones, and they require specific strategies to be successful. People have different needs, they are in different cities, and are facing different challenges – but all of them are turning to you, hoping you can communicate effectively and help them.
Talk about a challenge. #hardstuff
So what can companies be doing? What can we focus on to make sure we are communicating effectively with our customers? Well…lots of things, actually. Let’s run through a few!
1. Make it relevant. We communicate when we have something we need to say. Seems straight-forward enough. The problem is that what we say doesn’t always translate into relevance for our customers. What do they need to know? What problems are they facing? What value can you be adding them? To keep the conversation two-way, marketers can’t just be communicating only what we want to say, but instead flip that upside down to focus on what our customers need to hear. Customer relevancy is critical in seeding brand loyalty. As people interact with your brand, they need to feel like you are speaking directly at them to build affinity toward you.
2. Listen actively. This is a tough one. Confession: I’ve not always been a great listener. THERE I SAID IT! [facepalm] In fact, it took years of beating my head against a wall before I realized I wasn’t listening well enough to be effective. Talking at people is easy; talking with people is hard.
Practicing the art of active listening is key to hitting the latter. What does that look like? Surveying customers is a great start. Jumping offline and talking with your customers in person so you can really hear (and see!) what they are saying is even better. You need to be using all of the customer analytics available to you to really understand the challenges facing your customers. Only then can you both (a) solve for them, but perhaps even more importantly, (b) communicate that you’ve solved for them.
3. Get comfortable with your emotions. Ewwwwww emotions. Cooties central. I hear ya. But jump on board, friends. As marketers, we need to acknowledge that the issues our customers face when interacting with our products and company cause them to feel a certain way. We assume their reactions are what we should be communicating toward, but how they react and how they feel are often two very different things.
The best customer communications get at the heart of a feeling. Maybe a customer isn’t logging into your product, but what are they feeling? Are they overwhelmed by the complexities? Are they afraid of setting something up wrong? Are they too busy to jump in and get started? Spend time figuring out how can you communicate and help your customers based on how they are feeling…not just on how they are acting.
4. Anticipate the next issue. It’s easy to get caught up in the now. Marketing communications can feel incredibly reactive a great deal of the time. The trick to improving your relationship with customers is to anticipate the next issue they might have, and to speak to them in advance. For example, if your site was down don’t send an email to say you’re sorry for the outage, anticipate that this may have caused them purchasing issues, or product problems, and provide them opportunities to report those for updates.
BigDoor has adopted a similar philosophy when it comes to communicating with our partners. Anytime we perform maintenance or upgrade our product, we proactively communicate with our partners to let them know in case they see any changes on their side. Our Director of Product Management, Jason McCue, is diligent about putting the customer first with his communication strategy. It helps us anticipate issues and better serve our clients.
By communicating to customers that you are thinking about how things might affect them, it shows that you are keeping their concerns front and center.
5. Quick and simple. Let’s keep it quick and simple, friends. I’m a talker. Like for real. Chit chatting all the time…except for when I work on customer communications. There is a time and place for the very transparent, thorough letter to customers, but that is not the norm. Customer communications, for the most part, should be focused on a singular message; they should be quick to read and simple to consume.
The craft of writing effective, quick, and simple communications is a topic worthy of it’s own post, but in the meantime, try to keep it in mind. Saving your customers time is just another way of saying, “I am keeping your needs in mind.” So when you put together your next email, post, or communication campaign, for the goodness of it…keep it quick and simple.
So there you have it; some practical ways to start improving your communications today! Down the road, we will cover the tools of the trade (wait, I can do more than just send emails?! Yes, it’s true!) Until then, we hope you have some success with these tips.
If you have other tricks you’ve picked up over the years on how to really get through and help customers, we’d love to hear them below in the comments!