Nowadays, no business can garner a significant market share without building strong relationships and making meaningful connections with its target audience. So, what does that involve exactly?
Well, it's not about bombarding leads and customers with impersonal promotional content at every turn. Instead, it's about building a carefully considered rapport on a one-to-one level – through personalised and consistent customer communication. Read on for a complete guide to customer communication, including what makes an effective strategy and the types of technologies and tools that can help you deliver it.
What is customer communication?
Customer communication involves businesses conveying information or ideas to their target audience or interacting with them via any communication channel at any stage of the customer journey.
Good customer communication is two-way and ongoing, aiming to build valuable relationships and keep customers hooked and excited about a business's offering. But it's not just about promotional communications; it's also about transactional and conversational connections and sending out carefully prepared content to the right audiences.
Different types of customer communication include:
Promotional materials – special offers, new product launches, company news and announcements.
Transactional alerts – order and payment confirmations, shipping notifications, delivery updates, 2FA PIN codes, appointment confirmations, event or meeting reminders and emergency alerts.
Conversational messages – customer enquiries, support conversations and customer feedback or complaints.
What is customer communication management?
Customer communication management is a strategy in itself that requires an organisation-wide effort. It involves taking control of all processes, teams, tools, tech and resources used in customer communication, and organising, managing and optimising them to provide an enhanced customer experience and a maximum ROI.
Benefits and elements of a customer communication strategy
Good customer communication leads to happy customers, which, in turn, leads to repeat purchases, word-of-mouth referrals, increased sales and greater revenue. But you can only achieve all this if you have a proper strategy in place. Here are some of the main elements that'll help you improve customer communication:
Clear communication goals
Setting well-defined communication goals will give you a sharp focus on what you, as a business, want to achieve and provide operational direction for how to get there. With goals set, you can tailor your communication efforts around them and set up performance monitoring methods to measure your business's progress. The entire process means activity planning can be done in advance, including contingency planning in case performance goes off track.
Tailored communications (that get results)
With a proper plan and your goals mapped out, you can create targeted communications that resonate better with customers. They can be tailored for different audience segments, e.g., leads, first-time customers and loyal customers or according to demographics, behaviours or interests. For best results, plan each interaction thoroughly and concentrate on the desired outcome – what you want your audience to do as a result.
Consistent brand voice and image
A good customer communication strategy, with input and collaboration across your organisation, will result in unified messaging coming from your brand. You'll be able to create a brand identity (if your business doesn't already have one), including a consistent communication style that customers will begin to recognise and trust.
Feedback collection and utilisation
Effective customer service communication includes obtaining customer feedback – a beneficial process for two reasons. Firstly, seeking opinions actively encourages customer engagement. Secondly, feedback helps you understand how customers perceive your products, services or brand and indicates what you need to do to improve and meet their expectations.
You can also collect feedback indirectly and use this information to progress the customer journey. For example, through web insights technology, you may notice several customers have visited one specific product page more than others. You could then give this group a nudge in the right direction by sending them a special SMS coupon for that particular item. Another example is identifying customers who leave items in their online shopping cart – in this case, an abandoned cart reminder can help them finish the checkout process.
Greater customer availability
Good customer communication involves responding to questions, issues or complaints satisfactorily and promptly. Customers hate waiting for businesses to respond and won't think twice about abandoning your brand for the competition if they don't have a positive experience. By adopting a dedicated customer communication strategy and setting KPIs for customer service team response times, you can start delivering faster responses.
Improved customer satisfaction
By providing customers with the information they need, being quick to respond to questions, sending personalised, relevant communication and obtaining regular feedback, customers will feel like your business knows and values them.
Brand loyalty and higher retention rates
Customers who are satisfied (or more than satisfied) with their communications with your business are more likely to be loyal and happily stick with your brand for the long term. They'll also feel confident recommending you to friends and family.
With more returning customers, you can expect lower acquisition costs overall. You can consider spending less on paid advertising because you'll benefit from organic marketing via existing customer referrals. Ultimately, returning customers will bring you new customers, resulting in more revenue, higher profits, business growth – and even expansion opportunities!
How do you build customer communication? (Seven best practices)
Good customer communication involves defining clear goals, creating your brand voice, following a solid action plan, leveraging multiple communication channels and technologies, providing personalised messaging and monitoring performance. Let's break these activities down:
1. Define your business goals clearly
Goal setting is crucial to business success. Before you set communication goals, you need to know your overall business objectives. Otherwise, you can't expect any solid outcomes from your efforts.
That said, your customer communication goals should link into your overall business objectives. For example, suppose one of your business goals is to increase customer retention by 20% over the next 12 months. In that case, a communication goal might be to create and implement a customer feedback system so you can discover how to improve satisfaction levels.
2. Find your brand voice and identity
A brand voice covers tone, style and messaging and is a huge part of your brand identity. It's a consistent voice that adds personality and authority to your brand and helps customers identify your business.
Once you've determined your brand voice (here's how), it's essential to brief your entire organisation, especially teams and individuals with customer-facing roles, so they present a united front in public and private communications. The process will encourage internal collaboration and empower staff to contribute towards your business's success.
3. Make a solid action plan
A robust action plan will make it easier for your business to achieve its customer communication goals. It should include all the tasks and steps that need to be carried out (even the finer details) and a timeline to keep everyone on track. Each task must be clearly described and allocated to a staff member. The action plan can then act as a reference tool and hold individuals to account for the tasks they need to complete.
4. Leverage multiple communication channels
You can choose from various communication channels today to connect with customers. The most direct channels are SMS, email, OTT messaging, live chat, in-app messaging and in-person. Your website, online ads and printed media are also useful channels to consider.
In all likelihood, you'll need to adopt an omnichannel communications strategy – as customers tend to use more than one channel when interacting with a business (and will sometimes switch channels during a single interaction).
5. Embrace technology
There is a multitude of software solutions that can enhance your customer communication efforts by helping you understand customers better, streamline communication across different channels or generate creative content ideas. Many tools have automation capabilities, allowing you to send out communications on autopilot – like abandoned cart reminders, welcome messages or canned responses to FAQs. (Keep reading for examples of the most popular customer communication technologies.)
6. Focus on personalising all communications
Personalisation is no longer a 'nice thing to do' – it's what customers expect. And it goes way beyond including the customer's name in an email subject line. Customers want a personalised experience to keep them engaged and feel like a brand is listening to them.
Data is the starting point of personalisation. Collect, analyse, and use insights about demographics, behaviours and interests to design creative campaigns and content your target audience will find relevant and valuable. Here's how to use personalisation in SMS messages.
7. Monitor performance and results
Continually evaluate your customer communication strategy and measure its performance. Setting customer engagement KPIs around your average response time, customer retention rate and customer satisfaction score will help you identify whether your business needs to adjust its approach.
Popular types of customer communication tools and technologies
Customer communication tools help you deliver consistent brand messaging, track customer interactions and engagement, and improve the customer experience. Here are some solutions to consider:
A customer relationship management (CRM) platform is a holistic solution for managing interactions at all stages of the customer journey. It helps businesses build relationships and streamline processes to improve customer service, sales and profitability.
The key features of CRM systems include contact management, customer profiling, lead management, customer data analytics, sales and marketing automation, SMS integration and document management. Some well-known CRM solutions are Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho and Pipedrive.
SMS APIs integrate with your existing business systems, allowing you to utilise text messages for short, time-sensitive communications. Depending on the provider, an SMS API may offer you:
Group or mass texting – for large-scale marketing campaigns.
Shortcodes, long codes, and branded Sender IDs.
Message previewing and templates.
Auto-replies – to give customers an instant response to specific questions.
Insightful reporting tools and analytical capabilities.
Choose a well-established and reliable text blast provider to benefit from high delivery rates, CRM integration, good customer support, efficient SMS routing, reasonable pricing and global reach. Messente is one option that ticks all these boxes! Learn more.
Email marketing solutions
Email marketing platforms are ideal for sending long-form content like newsletters, company announcements or automated onboarding campaigns. Solutions you may have heard of are Mailchimp and MailerLite. With both of these, you can upload contacts or capture subscribers with signup forms, create campaigns, segment your audience and analyse email open and response rates.
Social media management platforms
As well as using social messaging channels like WhatsApp and Messenger, your business should have a presence on some of the leading platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, X, Instagram and TikTok) to engage customers and answer their queries. Managing interactions across numerous social platforms can be tricky, which is where social media scheduling tools come in handy.
Through solutions like Hootsuite, Buffer and Tailwind, you can schedule, automate and optimise your content, and get a holistic view of all your social media activity using a content calendar.
AI-based SMS chatbots or live chat will help you provide faster responses to customers, while other solutions can give you intelligent predictive analytics. AI tools can also help you brainstorm content ideas and create fresh article outlines – and enhance case studies, tutorials and product catalogues.
Content management systems (CMS)
A content management system helps you create, manage and edit website content without needing to know any code or interact with a web server manually. WordPress is an example of a CMS – you write your content in a user-friendly visual editor and click a publish button to upload it to your web server. CMS features include content organisation, user-based access, multilingual content capabilities and webpage search and retrieval.
Web analytics tools
There are two main types of web analytics tools – those that track web traffic and metrics like clicks, bounce rates and conversions – an example is Google Analytics. And some monitor user interaction and online behaviour, like Hotjar and Microsoft Clarity. The latter options help you understand what your website users are doing while they browse your website, including when users hesitate, do a u-turn or scroll without clicking.
Focus on customer communication for long-term business growth
How you communicate with customers can make or break their decision to purchase from your business, return and refer others. The good news is that your brand voice, communication style, content types and customer service response times are all within your control.
A solid customer communication strategy starts with creating well-defined goals and precise actions. It involves personalising all communications, leveraging multiple channels and utilising technology to help you understand your customers, streamline communication and respond faster. It also involves listening to customers about what your business lacks (even if you don't want to hear this!) – and then making the necessary improvements to exceed customer expectations.
Further reading: Customer Engagement: A Comprehensive Guide.