How you keep in touch with clients and employees is everything
Successful businesses know that good communication is key. Customers and clients want to feel connected and informed, they want a transparency that builds trust and loyalty. The events of 2020 (hello, remote working and Zoom calls!), communication and setting expectations have taken on a greater importance.
When communication is a priority, people are informed. They know what to expect, feel connected and important, can better anticipate and can make better decisions on their end. Poor communication destroys relationships. It leads to confusion and wasted time and does nothing to sustain trust over the long term. This is true with any type of relationship—including the ones with clients and employees.
In 2020 and moving forward, your team needs to understand what’s expected of them and your partners, and customers need to understand how to work with you.
Being in sales during a very gray time, I believe that communication will be the number one aspect that empowers any business to survive times of uncertainty.
You can’t communicate with a client one day and go silent the next. Your clients and partners need to know they can count on you and that you will be consistent in sharing information. This sets the right expectations and helps them avoid feeling like you’ve left them on the hook.
Weekly emails or phone calls are great ways to make sure everyone is communicating. Set an expectation on how long you’ll take to respond, then make sure you stick to it. The longer you make people wait to hear back, the less important they feel, so make sure you’re responding quickly — even if the message is only to let them know you received their phone call or email and are working on a response.
To maintain consistency, it’s a good idea to set aside time at the start and end of every work day to respond to emails and voice messages.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a myriad of moving parts. Get specific about what those changes are in your business and how they impact your customers. Then, be forward-thinking about what questions your clients, partners, or employees might have and be ready with answers.
For example, if shipping times are delayed because of a larger volume, tell your customers. Doing so can save your customer service representatives time because they won’t need to field the same inquiry over and over—plus, it will keep your customers happy.
Taking a customer-centric approach to communication can remove much of the guesswork and create faster resolutions, too. Be proactive in communicating with customers through email or voicemail. This will in turn prepare you for inquiries from your customers or team members and remove the panic that comes with problems. Teams should feel empowered, and helping them take charge will make them look good to others and give them confidence that they’re in control.
If ever there was a time to over-communicate, it’s now. Uncertainty is thriving, and people need extra assurance that orders have been received and want to be sure you haven’t dropped the ball. For example, if you typically send confirmation emails when orders are received but not when they ship, consider sending that extra email to make another connection. Chances are they’ve been let down by other businesses in some way during the pandemic, so consider this an opportunity to stand out.
Don’t assume that everyone will go to your website to look for an FAQ page when they have a question. Instead, post updates on all of your social media channels, add informational banners to your website, and send updates via email. You don’t always know how your customers might try to get in touch with you, so make it easy on them by meeting them wherever they are.
Effective communication takes a proactive approach. As things everywhere continue to change, the expectations you’ve set as a business can be the one constant your clients can count on.