How to communicate with your customers: a short guide for businesses

Dhiraj Nallapaneni

8 min read Last Updated Jun 16, 2020

How to communicate with your customers

Every time you communicate with your customers, you need to put your best foot forward. Even a single bad experience is enough to turn a loyal customer away from your business permanently. Of course, you can prevent this from happening by building an effective communications strategy and helping your team members understand how to communicate with your customers. 

Why customer communication matters 

Just how important is customer communication for a business? Check these stats: 

  • Consumers are willing to pay 17% more for businesses with a reputation for great customer service. 
  • Customers who report positive experiences are likely to spend 140% more than customers who report negative experiences. 
  • 56% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after a poor customer service experience. 

So remember, customer communication has a real impact on your bottom line. So, make sure that you’re taking the right steps to make sure your team is communicating efficiently and effectively. 

Building a customer communication strategy 

Broadridge recommends three pieces to building a customer communication strategy: organizational culture, process, and technology. Let’s go through all three. 

  • Organizational culture

Make sure that different departments and teams are collaborating so that your overall communication strategy is understood across the organization. Try to schedule regular meetings so that all of your team members who are customer-facing are on the same page.

  • Process 

Make sure that a well-defined process is in place for how customer communications are handled, documented internally, and passed off from one department to another. Without a well-defined process, it’s likely that customer queries are just going to get lost in the shuffle. 

  • Technology 

Make sure that your business has the right technology so that information is easily accessible to all members of your organization. It should be easy for messages to be passed off from one team to another seamlessly. 

Best practices for communicating with your customers

Of course, it’s important to lay down the fundamentals of good customer communication. So let’s talk about the basics of customer service. Here are a few tips to make sure that your team is communicating with customers effectively. 

Listen before talking 

Before making any assumptions about what the customer needs, take some time to listen and understand why they reached out to you. That means avoiding interruptions and giving them room to speak their mind. Be sure to listen actively and acknowledge that you are hearing all of the customer’s concerns. 

Be patient 

Sometimes, a customer might not be able to articulate what their issue is right away. Make sure that you are asking the right questions so that you can really understand where the customer is coming from. This might take some time, but it’s important to avoid shortcuts, keep patient, and keep digging until you get to the root of the problem. 

Show your customers that you care about them

If your team is reading off scripts during calls, it’s possible that your customers feel like they are not getting the personalized attention they need. Make sure that there’s some degree of personalization. That could mean starting off the conversation with a question like “How is your day?” or addressing them by their names. Something as simple as this is can help to make the conversational feel more human.

Make sure you really know your product inside out

Customers see your employees as experts on your products or services. If they feel that the person helping them is not confident about the product or is giving them the wrong answers it will lead to poor customer experience.

So make sure that your team members know your product inside and out before they talk to customers. Organize regular training sessions so they always have the most up-to-date information about the product and come across as product experts. 

Make it easy for teams to collaborate 

It’s important that your business enables team collaboration. If an employee wants to pass along a customer query to someone who is better equipped to answer it, the employee should be able to do this easily. This will help to make sure that your customers’ questions are answered quickly and effectively. 

For example, if your office manager gets a question from a customer that she needs the sales to answer, she should be able to assign the customer query to sales conveniently.

team collaboration example

Choose the best way to communicate with your customers 

Part of a great communication strategy is being available on multiple channels. A customer who sends you a message on Facebook Messenger might ask you a question via website chat the next week. If you’re not staying on top of all of these channels, it’s possible that some of these queries are not being responded to in a timely manner.

 Let’s talk about some of the common channels that customers use to contact businesses. 

Email 

Email, as you all know, can be a great way to reach your customers and promote new offers. However, it does have limitations. Pretty much every business out there uses email to communicate with customers. That means that it’s very hard for any one business to cut through the noise. As a result, email open rates usually hover around 20%.

We’re not saying that you should give up emails entirely. However, it’s important to recognize that there are mediums that might help you get your message out more effectively. 

Phone calls 

If you’re running a business, chances are that you have a landline phone to take customer calls. While phone calls work great in many situations, they have their limitations just like emails. 

Even during business hours, it’s just not possible to take every call that comes your way. We’ve seen that businesses miss up to 62% of phone calls. That’s a ton of potential customers who aren’t getting the kind of support they need. 

Video calls 

Sometimes, a simple audio call just doesn’t cut it. There’s a lot that gets lost in translation when a customer can’t see your team members’ facial expressions. If your team has the capability, you should consider video calls.  

Your customers will probably appreciate that you took the time to do a video call with them. Phone calls often get passed off from department to department. In contrast, video calls show customers that they are valued and that the team member is really taking the time to understand their needs and concerns. 

Text messaging 

Text messaging might be your best option for effectively reaching your customers. Studies show that text messaging has a stunning 98% open rate. While phone calls and emails are often oversaturated, text messaging still has not been widely adopted, making it a great opportunity for your business. 

Of course, businesses should keep in mind that text messaging should not be used too often. Nobody wants to get a text every day from a business. It’s recommended that you limit texts to customers to about 1-2 every week. 

text message example

Website chat 

Sometimes, your customers will be looking for immediate answers to their questions. For situations like this, the best option is live chat. While customers will often get voicemail when trying to call a business, live chat is typically both quick and reliable. All the customer has to do is type out a message on your business’s chatbox and they’ll immediately get connected with one of your team members. 

Don’t have the resources to constantly monitor chats? Consider using chatbots. A chatbot is an automated program that answers frequently asked questions automatically. That means there’s no need for a live representative to be involved. 

Social media 

Chances are that you have a business profile on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These profiles shouldn’t just be used to promote news and offers, they’re also an opportunity to engage with your customers. Something as simple as a “Thank you” to a Facebook Recommendation shows that you care about each and every one of your customers.

Of course, customers might be having conversations about your brand that you’re not aware of. That’s where social listening can help you. For example, a customer who got a bad burger at a local restaurant might not tag the restaurant directly. But if the restaurant finds the conversation, responds directly by apologizing to the customer with the promise of a free meal, they might be able to fix the situation.

Facebook Messenger 

Facebook isn’t just a social media platform. It’s also one of the world’s biggest messaging platforms. Currently, there are more than 1.3 billion people that use Facebook Messenger. That means it’s a great opportunity for your business to connect with customers. 

Of course, there is a catch. In order for your business to send messages to customers via Facebook Messenger, they need to send you a message first. Consider advertising a new sale or an upcoming event and telling your customers to message you on Facebook for more details. That can help increase give you a list of leads that you can contact in the future.

Communicate with your customers with BirdEye 

Look, we get it. It’s hard for a business of any size to stay on top of all of these different channels while maintaining a consistent customer experience. That’s why BirdEye can help. 

BirdEye’s platform offers businesses everything they need to communicate with customers in one place: the BirdEye Inbox. The BirdEye Inbox allows businesses to send and manage messages from platforms like text messaging, website chat, and Facebook Messenger all in one place.