Taking the right steps to improve communication with staff and customers is something that all businesses should really be striving for in the ‘new normal’.
While communicating with staff and customers require slightly different approaches, underlying both with the question of ‘do they have what they need and want?’ will stand your business in good stead. Fulfilling these criteria will get customers to convert and staff to excel at what they do best.
In terms of developments in customer communication, for years now, we’ve seen the upwards trend in the use of tools such as chatbots, voice search, live chat, and other digital services that customers are increasingly reliant on. In the scope of the next five years, AI is predicted to power 95% of all customer transactions, and so seamless digital communication is
Likewise, we’ve also seen the increasing digitisation of communication with employees, and now as offices are emptier than before, the need to become a master in digital communication is stronger than ever before.
But what tools can you use to improve communication with staff and customers, and what strategy should you follow to make it as effective and clear as possible? I’ll explain the answers below.
Communicating with staff
You wouldn’t have a business without your employees, and their performance will also have a direct impact on its success.
If you have built your team with this in mind, it’s probably made up of people who enjoy the work culture and share your business values and are therefore also invested in the success of your business.
However, it doesn’t matter how competent your team is. If you don’t have the right communication strategy in place, the work they produce for you won’t reach its potential, and likewise, your business growth will also not reach its full potential.
The newly emerging culture of permanent work from home (WFH) is also placing additional demands and pressures on communication, and those that don’t communicate well with their employees won’t have sufficient insight into what progress is being made and what challenges are being met in their own business.
So what steps and tools do you need to ensure that you maintain healthy levels of communication with staff?
Project Management Tools
Even before more people were working from home, project management software was incredibly useful. Now it’s more on the ‘essential’ side of things.
They allow you and your team to have visibility over all the projects going on in your business, including who’s accountable for each action, as well as where each part is up to. This keeps everyone on the same page, makes processes more efficient, and improves accountability.
We used Monday.com before the COVID19 pandemic and found it to be useful then. Since the pandemic hit and we moved to a primarily WFH setup, we rely on it more than ever as we’re able to capture processes and communicate what’s happening in the business with everyone.
Project management software is great for keeping the day-to-day of the business running smoothly, but it’s also important to regularly touch base with your team to keep them informed, engaged, and happy.
If you’re in the office with your team, this is pretty straightforward, but WFH can be more challenging.
Using a WhatsApp group made up of your team as a quick-fire way to communicate has proven effective for us, from quick questions, looking for feedback with links to projects, to the occasional funny meme, it helps sustains and nurture our culture, despite the different setup.
Of course, messages aren’t enough on their own and can only communicate so much, and so video meetings have become the norm for many businesses. Figures showing Zoom downloads prove this- the number of daily downloads jumped from 57,000 in January 2020 up to 2.13 million just two months later in March 2020.
Whatever video software your use for meetings, it’s important to then create a routine with your team with meetings. Before WFH, we would have a meeting every Monday to discuss all our agendas. Now, with less face-to-face communication going on in the week, we now host a team meeting twice a week.
In the meetings, your team meetings, it’s important to make the most of everyone’s time so that everyone is clear on what they are working on as well as what everyone else’s projects consist of. Some things you can consider doing include:
- Giving everyone the time to talk about what they are working on (listening is just as important as being heard)
- Provide any updates on the business (good or bad- transparency is important)
- Work through the project management system with your team on the shared screen
You can find out more about how to work from home effectively with a team in our article here.
Communication with customers
Just as you wouldn’t have your business without your employees, you also wouldn’t have a business without your customers, and so you need to improve communication with staff and customers.
It’s more complex than communicating with your team, but communicating with your customers should be at the heart of your business because, without that contact, they won’t realise what it is you have to offer.
But what does customer communication actually look like? It all falls under the category of marketing, even if you’re not directly selling something. Customer communication includes:
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Paid advertising
- SEO-led content marketing
- Live chat and chatbots
Each aspect works to fulfil the ‘know-like-trust’ factor and get the customer to move from one stage of the sales process to the next. You can do this by demonstrating that you understand your customers ‘pain points’ and have a solution that can solve them.
Customer expectations are higher than ever before though, but the right technology allows businesses to go above and beyond in meeting those expectations.
So what tools and strategy should you be considering to improve your communication with customers?
You may already have a marketing strategy in place. If you do, evaluate how well each channel works, and whether your marketing works together in a single omnichannel approach. This means that all your marketing is integrated, so each of your marketing assets supports the others, creating a streamlined system that makes it easy for customers to convert.
If you’re not sure where to start in developing your marketing strategy or what aspects you need to consider, you may benefit from our free course on how to generate sales for your business with digital marketing.
It’s no small job getting this right, but you’ll need to do just that if you want your business to grow and thrive, even in tough economic times.
Consumers are shopping online more than ever, and if your business is going to compete, the customer journey needs to be seamless from start to finish.
You usually need at least seven ‘touchpoints to get customers to buy, such as receiving a newsletter with a relevant offer, speaking to a customer service assistant, seeing a targeted ad appearing in their newsfeed. All of these communicate your brand, and so you want tools that will allow you to do this efficiently.
For posting on social media, there are scheduling platforms like Sendible. For newsletters, MailChimp and ActiveCampaign are good options. It’s also worth setting up either a live chat or chatbot service on your website so that customers can have their queries answered quickly.
Then there’s communicating with your clients personally. Like communicating with your team, you can use video chat software to host regular meetings to keep existing clients up to date.
Hosting webinars and peer groups are also a great way to communicate your brand message and raise awareness with relevant people, while also learning from the insight of others.
Looking to the future
While in recent months we have become more physically distanced from one another, technology has allowed us to bridge the gap and become effective communicators, even when we’re not face-to-face. Communication with staff and customers via technology will only become more sophisticated in the future, as new introductions to the tech market will need to reflect employees and customers’ need for ease-of-use when communicating digitally.
Ultimately, our communication doesn’t need to suffer at the hands of social distancing and technology such as video calls and automated online chat. Instead, communication can be enhanced when implemented alongside the right strategy. It will allow you to continue to conduct business wherever you may be, improve communication with staff and customers, and protect your business from a recession.