How to Have More Effective Communication With Customers

min read
How to Have More Effective Communication With Customers

All businesses can do a better job of effective communication with customers. A 2022 report by Grammarly and The Harris Poll notes that U.S. businesses are losing up to $1.2 trillion a year because of poor communication, both internally to their employees and stakeholders as well as externally to their customers and the market at large. That’s a massive loss being attributed to a fixable problem with a simple remedy: more effective communication.

In this post, we’ll consider the importance of communication with customers, the benefits of investing in better communication with your clients, and the types of information needed when communicating with customers.

Why Effective Customer Communication Is Important

Communicating effectively with customers across all touch points, online and off, is vital for any business. Clear and consistent communication results in a positive relationship, and a better customer experience. Ultimately, it can also lead to more business for your company through repeat orders and even referrals to new clients.  

However, according to the 2022 Grammarly/Harris Poll report, 40% of knowledge workers and 17% of business leaders say they’re not confident when communicating with external clients and vendors. This lack of confidence in communication with customers could be causing companies to lose business, both new deals and existing clients. And it puts even more pressure on those who work in customer service, marketing, and the contact center to make sure they get it right when communicating with customers.

Effective vs. Ineffective Communication

How do you know if your methods of communicating with customers are working well? And how can you tell if your communication with customers is falling short? Detecting evidence of positive or poor customer communication management is easy when you know what signs to look for. Here are some of the biggest clues:

Signs of Effective Communication

  • High customer satisfaction ratings (e.g., Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT))
  • Strong customer experience ratings (e.g., Net Promoter Score (NPS))
  • Positive comments on customer and review sites
  • Fewer calls to customer service
  • Robust repeat business
  • Quality referrals to new clients
  • Deeper customer loyalty
  • Increased revenue

Signs of Ineffective Communication

  • Significant customer churn
  • More calls (and complaints) to customer service
  • Increased escalation of inbound calls to managers
  • Negative reviews on social media, review sites, and other digital channels
  • Low ratings for customer experience and satisfaction (e.g., NPS, CSAT)
  • Declining or stagnant sales
  • Inability to expand the customer base

How to Have Better Communication With Customers

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do when it comes to improving communication with your customers. One traditional tactic is to provide soft skills training to your organization’s client-facing teams and customer service staff, ensuring they’re prepared to engage in active listening and demonstrate empathy with your clients when needed. Even if your company is already effective at communication, there is always opportunity to up your team’s game.

Many solutions for elevating the quality of customer communication today involve technology. For instance, by automating certain aspects of customer service using tools like artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots, your clients can connect with the information and help they need more quickly. And, if the assistance they require involves talking with a human, automation of routine tasks will give your agents more time to devote to delivering personalized service.

Here are 12 more tips that can help you determine what methods of communicating with customers your business may want to employ and the types of information needed when communicating with customers:

Tip #1: Clear, Accessible Channels of Communication

In this digital era, there have never been more ways for your business to communicate with clients. Email or text messages, chat functions on your website, online display and paid ads, and social media channels are just some options.

And don’t forget the phone: Research shows that 60% of customers make a phone call to a business when considering high-stakes purchases, like insurance and automobiles. In many cases, your call center operations will provide your customers with their first impression of your business, so it’s worthwhile making investments, including in technology,  to help ensure that experience is a stellar one.

Innovative technology is at work in many call centers today, helping business to deliver more effective communication with customers. Invoca’s AI-powered call tracking and analytics platform, as an example, provides clear and concise searchable records of calls that businesses can use to confirm they’re effectively communicating the right messages to their customers at the right time. These insights also can be used for ongoing call center staff training, and for adjusting scripts to improve agent performance in the future.

Tip #2: Be Mindful of Your Audience

Customers often gravitate to brands they feel a personal connection to. If they have an experience with a brand or its representatives that leaves them wanting, or is downright poor, it could damage the customer-brand relationship before it even has a chance to blossom.

Make sure any team members responsible for engaging directly with your clients understand the importance of delivering personalized communication to them and going the extra mile to make them feel valued. Also, invest in the appropriate training and tools that will help them provide positive customer experiences.

Tip #3: Listen and Ask Clarifying Questions

Don’t just listen to customers. Engage in active listening. That involves giving your full attention to what a customer is saying and waiting until they’re finished to make your point or ask a question. 

Active listening requires concentrating on what the speaker is saying. Asking questions is also important: Clarifying what the customer has said removes any doubt, and will help you avoid wasting time in resolving an issue to their satisfaction.

Tip #4: Be Transparent

Good communication stems from being honest and transparent. If you can’t solve a customer’s problem, be upfront about it. Show empathy, and tell the customer you will do what you can to help them connect with the appropriate person or team who may be able to assist them. 

Customers recognize that some problems may require a longer fix, including multiple interactions with support staff. They will be more patient with this process if you’re honest with them from the outset.

Tip #5: Respond Quickly

Don’t wait too long to respond to customer communication! Not only do your clients deserve a swift response, but most will also expect it.

A general rule of thumb in business today is that emails should receive a response within 24 hours. Responding faster is better, of course. Even if you don’t have an answer, let the customer know you’re working on their issue. Also, consider using an automated reply to acknowledge that a customer’s email has been received, especially if it arrives outside of your customer service team’s work hours. Give the customer some indication of when they might receive a response.

Tip #6: Follow Up and Be Proactive

The last impression the customer receives in any customer communication is as important as the first. You may be tempted to think that because you’ve solved the issue, that’s the end of it, and you’ve delivered a positive customer experience. But always take that extra step. Proactively asking a customer if they have other issues needing attention or simply thanking them for their call can go a long way toward enhancing customer service. (And don’t forget to ask the customer if they’d be willing to provide feedback on their experience, such as through an email survey.)

Tip #7: Set Measurable Goals and Monitor Them Regularly

A must for effective customer communication management is having the ability to measure achievement. Decide on the metrics that can impact your customer communication the most and set up a system to measure those metrics regularly. 

Key metrics for a call center operation, for instance, might include the results of short, post-call customer surveys, return call data indicating how many customers needed to call back until their problem was resolved, and the number of calls that had to be escalated. 

Tip #8: Automate Quality Assurance to Better Assess Agent Performance

There are few second chances to get things right in customer service. Research from Invoca shows that more than three-quarters of consumers will stop doing business with a company after just one bad experience. 

That’s why accurately gauging your agents’ performance and using that data to improve the customer experience is so essential. Customer care teams can use AI to drive better results by scoring 100% of phone calls, instead of just a small sample. AI can also help reduce case volume by analyzing terms within call transcriptions to identify problems at scale.

Sample Invoca agent scorecard generated by AI

Also, you want your contact center staff to be ready to help guide customers toward a conversion if they’re seeking information to help them make a purchase. In a recent Invoca survey, 87% of buyers said talking to a person on the phone to answer questions made them feel more confident in making expensive or considered purchases, versus buying directly online. To quantify call handling quality and increase conversions, many businesses are now using AI-powered conversation intelligence software to gain insight into every contact center interaction.

Tip #9: Use Coaching Tools to Train Employees 

Coaching your staff effectively is critical if you want to reap the benefits of good communication with customers and maximize your team’s performance, especially in a call center environment. And you can use data gathered through AI to create coaching tools for your call center staff.

For example, Invoca’s AI-powered conversation intelligence platform helps call center agents and their managers work together more effectively to identify and nip bad habits in the bud and build good ones. Agents can review the transcriptions and recordings from their conversations with customers, which Invoca automatically provides following every call. They also get instant access to AI-generated call scores, which enhances self-coaching.

Invoca allows you to give your sales agents real-time comments on their performance

Agents can easily share transcriptions and recordings with their managers to request their input and guidance. Remote coaching is also a breeze with Invoca because managers can access and comment directly on recordings and transcriptions in the platform. They can provide feedback on specific moments and use email notifications to tag agents. 

Tip #10: Create Brand Vocabulary and Product/Service Bibles

A brand or product/service bible establishes a set of rules employees are expected to follow when communicating with customers about a brand, product, or service. These guidelines can help your teams convey clear and consistent messages when interacting with your customers. A typical brand bible contains a wealth of brand-related information including graphics, logo treatments, and letterhead templates — but the real value for client-facing employees is the messaging it contains.

Tip #11: Finish Conversations With Clear Next Steps

Don’t leave customers in limbo. Make sure you clearly communicate what steps you, or the caller, will need to take next to resolve an issue. If a resolution to the problem will take a few days to process or someone else will need to contact the customer, explain that. If the customer has a clear picture of the next steps, it’s less likely they’ll need to call back.

Tip #12: Practice Empathy and Patience

The soft skills that customer service teams and others need most to deliver exemplary customer communication are patience and empathy. Customers value businesses that are emotionally aware and make an effort to understand their issues and provide solutions. Emotions are even more important in the age of AI, and AI can help you confirm your agents are doing their best to make sure customers feel comfortable, valued, and heard.

For example, Invoca’s conversation intelligence solution allows businesses to set up searches for key phrases in phone conversations. If you want to be sure your agents are using empathetic phrases like “I understand” or “thank you for your patience,” Invoca’s Signal Discovery feature can help.

Improve Communication With Customers With Invoca

To communicate effectively with your customers, you need to stay connected to them. That includes providing high-quality, reliable service when they reach out to you through any channel, including by phone.

Invoca helps you create connections with your customers that are seamless and support positive, meaningful interactions with your customer service, marketing, or call center teams. Invoca’s platform and features can help you deliver a superior customer experience by allowing you to, among other things:

  • Get insights automatically from every contact center interaction
  • Make every agent more effective
  • Route callers based on their intent
  • Personalize every phone conversation
  • Deliver customer experiences that reduce churn

For more insight on how Invoca can help your business improve contact center performance, see this case study featuring Renewal by Andersen. The company, seeking innovative ways to communicate with customers, turned to Invoca’s call tracking and conversation intelligence technology to develop a more complete picture of how its contact center teams were communicating with customers. By automating quality assurance with Invoca, Renewal by Andersen was able to dramatically improve agents’ scores in only three months. Just one positive outcome the company has seen from using Invoca: a 129% increase in agents correctly assessing customers’ needs.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you improve communication with your customers? Check out these resources:

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