The phrase “communication with customers” is used so often in the CX conversation that it’s in danger of becoming a cliche. Marketing professionals place little weight on it, especially when it comes to creating meaningful differences for their brands. Here’s an apt analogy: it’s like breathing. We all do it every day without so much as a thought – unless, of course, respiration becomes a problem. Then it jumps to the top of our list of concerns. We propose here that customer communication, and its close cousin customer feedback, are faltering in businesses throughout the US on many levels. Thus, they deserve urgent attention as the golden keys available to commercial entities interested in unlocking their competitive potential.
Communication with customer groups begins by asking the right questions. If the questions are wrong, there’s zero chance of revealing anything that’s groundbreaking or that will make a difference to your CX strategy. Customers “talk” to us continuously via their actions, complaints, hesitations, reviews, online activity, and in-store behavior – how they feel and whether their expectations are met. In short, the answers to our most crucial questions lie inside that broadly defined conversation. We have to compile a list of “must-knows” to separate the wheat from the chaff when analyzing customer feedback — sorting through the data, in other words, so that it doesn’t become hopelessly confusing.
There’s evidence that companies unaware of CX as a customer loyalty decider (i.e., the vast majority) are not using customer feedback to improve their brand offers. At best, this issue results in the development of brand messages that go over customers’ heads alongside wasted promotional dollars. At worst, it can severely damage a brand’s reputation, or leave it as a third-rate market player. In short, poor CX awareness is a customer communications disaster in modern times.
Questions specific to customer feedback must help to:
1. Improve your products
Research tells us that close to 74% of CX professionals confirm that a good customer feedback survey is the “open sesame” to profitable product innovations. It boils down to asking customers how new features, product changes, and expanding the range can help the brand to:
- Outdo the competition
- Address pain points at all stages in the sales process
- Open new markets
- Improve usability
- Reduce the touchpoints between “attention” and “buying the brand”
- Create better customer engagement and communication with customer B2B entities at the product interface
For example, some enterprising companies are using online chat to get compelling customer feedback. Instead of waiting for customers to lead the conversation, get your human or AI chat agents to solicit opinions about additions and features you have in mind. Initiate the discussion, and you may be surprised at the responses. It’s a case of “thinking outside of the box” to stay ahead of the pack.
2. Detect all touchpoint issues
CX relies on mapping out a journey through the entire buying process, moving in and out of online connection – right through to the after-sales experience. Any touchpoint can push the customers’ direction off the desired track. It may even kill the sale once and for all. It’s the sellers’ responsibility to understand customers’ emotions and their thinking at every stage. The better the understanding, the better the company is equipped to overcome obstacles along the way. We recommend that you draw up a list of questions related to your touchpoints. Answers to these questions should clear up all uncertainty that hinders customers moving from one touchpoint to the next, leaving no gaps in the CX process.
3. Get customer communication to drive sales far and wide
Building a close rapport is a vital part of customer engagement. By turning customer responses and declared expectations into brand benefits, word of mouth references spread through the market. In essence, it’s the best natural promotion any company can ask for – by miles. From there, it’s easier to request real-time testimonials and public recommendations. When it comes to online credibility, customer voice goes a long way. Your team should take all customer feedback seriously and recognize it as the best avenue for making your product and brand meaningfully different. By doing so, you’ll give substance to a CX platform that will be long-lasting and create extraordinary market value. It’s the lifeblood of communication with customer segments in every viable market.
4. Build employee morale and enhance their performance
Customer feedback, more often than not, shows management and employees what worked and what didn’t in the company’s promotional strategy.
- If the reactions are good, it can be incredibly motivating to know that a contribution made a difference.
- On the other hand, when things fail, deflation may erode employee morale — if poorly handled.
- A culture where EX centers on learning from your mistakes should keep things moving in the right direction, even in the face of negative CX and flawed customer communication initiatives.
- Use customer responses as a reason to provide better insight into customers’ minds and souls. See them as a springboard to create new ideas and actions that address troubled touchpoints, replacing them with improved options that customers expect and deserve.
5. Measure customer satisfaction
As mentioned, satisfied customers will likely recommend brands they are happy with, and run down those that disappoint. So, don’t rely on guessing just how positive your customers are with the CX journey you provide. Specific questions go to the crux of the matter. The best of these is the classic NPS question: How likely are you to recommend this brand to others? Aside from whatever else is said, this is kind of like a bottom-line question. Customer feedback surveys, if well thought out, contain questions that when extracted as a subset, rank customers as:
- Brand promoters
- Brand detractors
Net Promoter Score outcomes give a clear understanding of how you can use customers’ words to work in your favor — or not. Directing customer communications without data metrics in the mix is like driving a car without a steering wheel.
6. Retain customers while looking for new prospects
The faster and more energetically you respond to customer feedback, the stronger emerging brand loyalty is likely to be. By employing a proven Customer Retention Survey Template, it’s possible to identify the most urgent customer touchpoint pains. Knowing what they are is ninety percent of the battle. From there, you can harness all your team resources to resolve the issues seamlessly and with maximum promotional impact. There’s little doubt that if a customer recognizes your effort to listen and then to quickly address any problems identified, it’s a good recipe to build trust and loyalty.
7. B2B complexities
These notes, in general, can apply to both B2C and B2B situations. B2B, specifically, is a very complicated challenge because communication with customer influencers invariably enters the equation. For example, engineers in production can hold sway over a new product introduction, and marketing managers can easily swing reps one way or another. CX in the B2B arena frequently travel down many tributaries before returning to the mainstream, and omitting even one can indeed kill the sale. Customer communications in B2B customer entities require extra careful analysis to make sure every player is considered and engaged.
Communication with customer audiences in a way that swings emotions and steers action toward your brand is no mean feat. Conducting random, ad hoc customer feedback surveys is, on the surface, not enough. Train the entire team to be customer inquisitive, asking the right questions at the right moments, both formally and informally. Both listening and learning provide numerous benefits, and you’ll collect loyalty and answers that can help you on multiple fronts. Get to know more about the people making the buying decision and those influencing it by seeking feedback at every turn. In that way, you’ll have a customer-centric brand offer that paves a smooth path through the customer experience.