Communicate with customers
Learning how to communicate well with customers is important for:
- managing customer relationships
- building positive word of mouth
- keeping loyal customers
- seeking customer feedback
- minimising and handling customer complaints.
Tips for communicating well with customers
Before you pick up the phone or meet with a customer, here are some key tips to remember:
- Build a relationship – take the time to be professional and personable with your customers. Get to know them and take note of what they’re telling you. That way the next time you speak to them you can ask about their kids birthday party or how their dog Rufus is going.
- Really listen to them – active listening is a skill like any other, and you need to practise it. Stay involved in the conversation and make sure to ask clarifying questions if you’re not sure you understand something. It can also help to rephrase what they’re telling you and repeat it back to them to clarify. This can make a good impression and ensure that you understand what your customer is saying to you.
- Use analogies to explain complex or technical issues – if you’ve done a good job of building your relationship, you should be able to pick examples that your customer will be able to connect with to explain your product or service in a way they'll understand.
- Have customer service standards and policies in place – Having internal customer service policies, standards and benchmarks that your employees are aware of and adhere to, can help ensure your customers are communicated with in a consistent way each time they interact with your business.
- Resolve disputes quickly and in way that suits their needs – if you've listened to your customers, you should be able to identify the problem and offer solutions to resolve the dispute as best you can. Read tips on handling customer complaints.
Keep in touch with your customers
By keeping in touch with your customers, you increase the likelihood of them remembering your business or recommending you to a friend next time they need a product or service you offer.
Depending on the type of business you run, the way you touch base with your customers will differ. As with everything in business, it’s important that you pick a strategy that works with your business model and brand.
Some great ways to keep in touch with your customers include:
- Jump on the phone– just make sure you comply with the requirements of the Do Not Call Register. You don’t have to call to try and sell them something, but if you’re a service-based business, touching base can be a great way to keep your business front of mind.
- e-Newsletters or mail outs – include information about any promotions you’re running and share your business’s success stories (make sure you have your customer’s permission and that you comply with spam laws). You can also use newsletters to share personal milestones or experiences, so your customers can connect with you on a deeper level.
Surveys – ask your clients for feedback on the products and services you offer. This can help you to find out their thoughts on your products and services, and what you could improve on or add to your offerings. You could even offer an incentive, such as free movie tickets, 20% off your products, or a free one-on-one session with you, to encourage your customers to respond.
Make sure you ask some open ended questions to give your customers a chance to have their say. This can provide you with feedback you can action rather than just their ratings.
Most importantly, make sure you follow up on the information you receive and do something with it.
- Social media – using social media to post special offers, information about new products or services or general announcements about your business can be a great way to keep your customers up to date on what’s going on in your business. Keep in mind when using social media, that you have limited control over what customers may post about your business. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you have a plan on how you will handle any enquiries or negative feedback that may occur.