Customer Communication: Setting the Right Tone in a Digital Environment

Effectively communicating with customers is essential for success in business. ‘It’s not what you said, but how you said it’ makes perfect sense when we are considering customer service. With rapidly changing customer dynamics, it is vital to pay attention to the way you communicate with people in order to deliver customer service excellence in a highly competitive business environment. Customers today are sensitive to non-verbal cues, gestures and the tone used by representatives. In a digital environment, having the perfect tone becomes even more complicated.  Why is it important to have the right tone and what steps can be taken to achieve it? Here’s a look.

Communicating with Millennial Customers  

With the growing number of millennial customers, we see them heading directly to social media channels of a business for getting in touch along with sharing their reviews with friends and family. To attract a digital savvy generation, such as millennials, businesses need to look at ways to successfully communicate with them. Since many of them prefer text based conversations via social media channels and business apps, it is vital to know how they want you to talk to them.

Understand What They Want

All your efforts are useless if you don’t understand your customer needs. There’s no use of offering a great solution which your customers never needed in the first place. Your perception about the problems customers are facing and the solutions they are looking for might not necessarily be what customers want.

Study the target demographics and consumer behavior before you communicate with them. One of the best things you can do for your target audience is to listen to them, be it an angry customer or a loyal one, if you really want to know your customers then you need to let them rant. Once they have said what they wanted to, respond to them in the manner that they feel connected to your business. Offering a personalized experience which is tailored to the needs of the person you are communicating with is what will set you apart from other businesses and result in happier clients.

Setting the Right Tone

One of the predominant factors that impacts your customers’ perception about your brand is the ‘tone’ of your communication. When a service representative responds to text based queries in a digital environment, customers have no idea of their mood; are they smiling or frowning? More often than not, a straightforward answer may be perceived as rude by customers because they have no verbal cues to understand the mood of the message. This is where the use of emojis comes into play.

Driving Customer Interaction with Emojis

Every time customers contact you, they leave cues for you to understand. By reviewing social media platforms, one of the dominant trends that you will notice is the use of emojis to drive customer-to-customer and customer-to-business interaction. Smart use of emojis is a great way to communicate with your customers. However, opening up communication with an emoji is not recommended before you get an idea of your customer preferences. With an appropriate emoji, not only can you set a tone (☹: empathizing with your customer’s situation, ☺: exhibiting nice), but it also adds a human voice to the message. A customer using a casual tone and slang is more likely to appreciate an upbeat response with apt emojis, while a formally crafted query should best be answered with a more serious tone.

How to Engineer Empathy In Your Company’s Architecture

Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of another person and is vital for those working in customer service. For businesses today, hiring individuals who not only specialize in a certain skillset, but also have high emotional intelligence has become fundamental to success. Recent research shows that companies which ingrain empathy as part of their strategy grow and evolve much faster than companies that pay little regard to it. The Empathy Index may be a new concept for many companies, but its scope is ever-expanding. Here are some ways that companies can incorporate empathy within their organizational culture.

Create the Right Questions and Statements

The more clarifying questions you ask, the more you know about a person’s needs, wants, interests and situation. Leaders and employees can develop empathy by active listening and understanding what the people they’re engaging might be thinking or aiming for. Companies must train their employees to increase their emotional intelligence, so they phrase the right kind of questions and statements to efficiently communicate with customers. Training employees is a step in the right direction to achieve customer service excellence. The main purpose of clarifying questions and statements is to make the customers feel heard and understood. Destructive questions should be avoided at all costs. These would include questions such as, “Are you trying to insinuate that this problem is my fault?”

Experience Before You Cater

The service or product improvement plan should be executed in three stages: Start off by hearing out your customers and employees. This is crucial if you plan to provide a premium customer service experience. Second to that would be getting in their shoes and seeing how you, being a user, interact with a certain product. This step is just as important, if not more so, as the first step. The third step is where you finally make the changes as per customer feedback. A proper platform, like a product testing laboratory, can be used to experiment with the products and get a better understanding of how the customers will interact with them. Doing so helps incorporate empathy in your company’s overall strategy.

Create a Learning Trend

Empathy can be inculcated in the personnel of your company by encouraging and developing a learning culture. It’s about time that the obsolete notion that leaders know everything and should be on top of their game all the time be discarded, accepting the fact that customer service and market trends are changing and evolving everyday; keeping yourself updated with these trends provides businesses the opportunity to grow.

People desire creative independence along with greater personalization, hence the concept of modern workplace culture is to provide employees with a space where they get to lay their own path, while also getting guidance.

Lastly, taking into account the recent debate of ongoing feedback having a clear advantage over annual business review, the verdict would be that it doesn’t really matter. Whether you’re pro annual review or you deem ongoing feedback the way, you should be learning constantly. Leaders should encourage and welcome different opinions, since knowledge has a number of routes to flow within a company — laterally, vertically, between groups and even organizations, and oppositions help formulate superior ideas through brainstorming. When your employees and colleagues know that their suggestions are respected, appreciated and welcomed, it’s sure to exude positivity and empathy in your work environment.

Provide Transparency

Today, customers expect to be kept in the loop regarding the happenings that take place in the background. Transparency not only influences customer relations, but also has a direct impact on your business partner relations.

Transparency begins with your company’s story — customers want to know who you are, where you come from and what fuels your game. Invest in digital content that tells your brand story, your beliefs, your vision and the things you stand for as a brand. Every bit of content written should be kept in accordance with that story, for the goal is to embody your vision and voice.

Listen to ‘Them Haters’

Don’t look at customer complaints as some kind of offense or threat, instead, see them as an emotional insight into your business fabric, an opportunity to not only fix the latent problem and satisfy the irate customers, but also to provide a much better service to the next batch of customers. Hence, complaints, no matter how harsh they may be, are a gift, and those haters serve as an early warning system which you did not even pay for, but is more valuable than you know.

Companies must work on coming up with ways to handle and learn from feedback. One way of handling would be checking back with the agitated customer after providing a solution to show your concern and see if there is anything else you could help them with.

What It All Boils Down To

It all boils down to the fact that empathy is a skill not easy to acquire, but to survive in the thriving market where options for customers and professionals are endless, it has become a necessity. Building a decent empathy quotient garners results of monumental proportions and starting off by making small changes, empathy can be prioritized and channeled through the whole architecture of the business. It must be inspired in the personnel on all levels, in customer-employee interactions and the working of the company.

5 Ways to Show Customers You Care

The change in buyer-to-seller dynamics has transformed the way customer happiness is perceived by both customers and businesses. Customer satisfaction is the new treasure vault that every company wants to unlock and the secret for opening it can be as simple as kindness and showing that you care. Creating acts of kindness for your customers is like sowing a seed in the field, which later grows into strong branches of happiness, satisfaction and even loyalty. Here are some ways to show customers that you care about them.

Creating Little Acts of Kindness

For every angry customer you encounter, there’s always one who patiently waits for his turn. Appreciate them. In the fast paced world we live in, patience is an uncommon virtue and customers who understand your position, even when there’s a mistake, should always be acknowledged and valued. Starting a conversation with phrases such as ‘Thank you for your patience’ or ‘we appreciate your interest in us’ can enforce a positive image of your brand in their minds.

Another way of appreciating your customers is to write personalized thank you notes for them. Sending a thank you note, specially tailored for the customer who made a large purchase from your brand or the one who often visits your store, shows that your company values its customers. Relevance and personalization should be at the core of these thank you notes and special messages for greater impact.

Treat Them like Loved Ones

Take a moment to think about a loved one who remembers all your important dates, always appreciates your achievements and makes time to spend with you. It not only makes you feel special, but also creates a stronger bond of loyalty. Companies which consider customers as their friends and craft their marketing strategies around their needs, have a higher probability of succeeding than others who don’t put customers at the center of their business model. Conduct regular customer service training for your organization to ensure your staff has all the essential skills required to deliver a personalized service experience.

Surprise Your Customers

If you’re thinking about satisfying your customers and motivating them to share their positive stories with others, there’s a fun way to do it. Surprising your customers with the unexpected can be the ultimate force that drives them towards brand loyalty. Sending surprise rewards to customers who have made a huge purchase, waited patiently during peak hours, or continue to come back to you, can be a great way to show that you care about them. Along with creating moments of surprise for customers, ensure that you consistently exceed their expectations.

The Classic Offers – Perks & Freebies

Psychological triggers are often a dominating aspect in creating loyal customers and repeat purchase. Imagine you’re a regular at a café, enjoying a cup of coffee with your friend and a waiter comes in with a slice of your favourite chocolate cake. Such courteous acts show customers that you care about them. Throwing in a few freebies can create a signature experience for your business and help in building brand perception.  

Reward Your Customers for their Loyalty

In a rapidly transforming era, companies have been struggling to find the key to keeping customers loyal to their brands. One of the ways to ensure loyalty is to offer something more to customers in return for their purchasing decision. A smartly crafted loyalty program is pivotal for this purpose. A loyalty program not only reiterates the fact that you value your customers, it also helps increase retention rate. Offer benefits that will make sense for your clientele and things that they value and appreciate.

Applying Game Based Learning in Customer Service

Learning new skills is essential not only for personal development and career progression but also to ensure business growth. For those working in customer service, certain skills such as active listening, effective communication, empathy and problem solving are a prerequisite. Businesses need to ensure they conduct regular customer service training programs to train staff on these skills. The concept of game based learning which is simply training and teaching certain skills through the application of games enables better engagement through simulated scenarios.   

How Gaming Makes You Smarter

One of the prominent features of game based learning is that it increases fluid intelligence of the learner. It boosts problem solving skills helping people apply those skills in unprecedented situations. Playing games is ascribed as a major factor for increasing grey matter. Not only do players feel motivated when playing games but also exhibit greater probability of recalling their experience, hence learning the skills that were taught. Game based learning makes people smarter and increases motivation and learning by releasing dopamine in the brain through actions and achievements.

Embracing Game Based Learning for Development of Skills

Creating a customer service training program by incorporating the elements of game playing, companies can engage staff in active learning. A successful active learning program should pose a challenge and require cognitive activity of participants for achieving the set objectives. Games fundamentally include these elements and provide a continuous process for people to increase their fluid intelligence through active learning. Playing games together as a team is also a great way to build trust and cooperation between people working in different departments or different areas of the same organization. It ensures a more collaborative environment which not only boosts teamwork but also keeps employees motivated to meet their targets and goals.

Creating real life scenarios in a game environment and training customer service agents through these games can enable them to find solutions to problems they may face in different situations. With the element of game based learning, companies can inspire employees to come up with innovative ideas to handle challenges.

Game based learning can also be used to train new employees joining an organization. By using real life challenges in training programs, managers can determine the strengths and weaknesses of their team and then have them play games where they can learn the missing skills and overcome problems.  Different kinds of games can be used for addressing different situations and challenges faced by employees. Interactive training workshops provide an immersive environment for the customer service trainees, who can then apply the skills that were learnt during the session when they come across an angry or a confused customer. It is, however, vital that the company conducts training programs which align with their organizational goals in order to achieve the desired results.

Embrace the Future

As businesses are focusing more and more on creating a unique customer experience, it is vital to train your customer service agents and frontline employees to excel in essential soft skills. With game based learning, companies can get ahead of their competitors by skill development of employees that will help in improving the overall service experience resulting in better customer engagement.