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The Changing Habits of How Businesses Communicate with their Customers

 

Gone are the days of flip phones and dial up broadband. The 21st Century has seen a myriad of new and exciting technologies that a business of any size can take advantage of.

Taking a look at how businesses communicate with their customers, there are some new (and not so new) technologies that are providing real results for businesses.

 

Social Media

While most of this article will focus on new technologies that make it easier to connect with customers, I couldn’t go without mentioning social media and more specifically, how it needs to be a customer service outlet for any business. While you may think you deliver great social media customer service, chances are you don’t. HelpScout uncovered that 80% of the companies they spoke to believed they offered great customer service. When they asked the customers of these brands, only 8% agreed.

Social Media Graph

To keep track of queries coming through to your social networking accounts, I would suggest using Hootsuite as a social media dashboard so you can manage your real-time communication. This will allow you to set up tabs for every account integrated into Hootsuite, so that if someone sends you a question via a social media platform, you can answer in a timely manner. 42% of users that ask a brand a question on social media, expect a response in less than 60 minutes. It’s important to remember that time frame when taking charge of your social media.

Gaining an advantage over a competitor in the communication space is one way to ensure existing customers purchase from you again as well as a way of gaining sales from new customers. Social media is just one way of doing this, here are a few others:

Email Marketing

Being able to reach out to your database with one email is powerful but, what is even more powerful is being able to analyse this data. The ability to see not only who has opened the email, but also who has clicked on one of the links is vital for understanding your customers and their needs. Technology now allows us to do this in a very simple way. If you’re looking at different email marketing tools, I would highly suggest you use Mailchimp, it is easily customisable and has engaging templates.

Email Marketing Graph

According to SalesForce, 64% of people will open an email because of the subject line. Make yours interesting and suitable for your customers. Gone are the days of “(no subject)”, the more innovative and captivating you are, the more likely your customers are going to encourage a two-way conversation.

 

Cloud Communication & Technology

Not taking advantage of the latest advances in technology for businesses means getting left behind. Because of these advances, businesses are moving their operations to the cloud.

Cloud communication providers voice and data applications and services, hosted on a secure servers which is maintained by the providers.

Effective use of Hosted VoIP is being adopted by many businesses worldwide that are looking for ways to cut costs. To improve productivity within a company, businesses are integrating VoIP technology with CRM software so that collaboration is easier.

Cloud based technologies have changed the way we work with customers. For me, if I have files I want to share with a client of mine, we will use Google Docs (if it’s just one document) or, we will use DropBox for documents and images.

It is also worth mentioning that internet broadband speed has increased. Looking at Virgin for example, they sold their “ordinary” speed internet services to TalkTalk, and now only offer fibre optic services. Richard Branson is usually spot on when it comes to technology and he’s proved me right once again.

 

Waving Goodbye to Office Phones and Hello to Smartphones and Tablets

I think I can safely say I wasn’t the only person who saw this coming, office phones are become less and less popular within companies because of how technology has changed. You can now set up a Skype telephone number that can be automatically directed to your mobile phone. Tablet sales have also been increasing worldwide as more companies are working on the go.

This means that searches on Tablet and Mobile have increased.

Click-through rate by device and platform

If you have a customer in a different country to where you are, there are many ways in which you can contact them (as I mentioned above) in a cost effective way. Using Mailchimp to connect with your customers worldwide via email, Skype to speak to your customers, Google Docs and Dropbox to collaborate and HighriseHQ to manage your CRM, no matter where you are based in the world.

Businesses have changed the way they communicate online because of the way technology has advanced. I suggest that you, regardless of your business size, take a look at the tools I have mentioned throughout this article and utilise the online space so that YOU can communicate with YOUR customers in the most active and personable way.

 

Data Sources:

https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-for-customer-service-guide
http://mailchimp.com/resources/research/email-marketing-benchmarks/
https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2013/07/email-marketing-stats.html
http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/facebook-ad-clicks-are-shifting-mobile-so-why-arent-conversions-162356