Today’s ‘connected’ world is putting pressure on organisations to deliver timely, personal and compelling communications across a range of channels. This has exposed the flaws of the old print-centric communications platforms. Customers want the same brand experience on their phone, laptop or tablet as they get from more traditional communications – they want the way messages are presented to them to be appropriate to the medium, in format as well as content.
Companies that can quickly deliver personalised, relevant content using the channel that customers prefer—whether that’s print, email, web, mobile or social networks—can capture greater loyalty and reduce the chance that customers will take their business elsewhere. In fact, personalised multi-channel communications can be the cornerstone of a strategy to build revenue growth through improved customer retention, increased customer advocacy, and better up- and cross-sell opportunities. In short, it’s a way to build competitive advantage.
A recent Disconnected Customer research report by Thunderhead Australia showed that a real disconnect exists between customers and financial service providers. Fifty percent of customers are of the belief that their providers do not understand them or their communication preferences. With 39 percent of respondents considering switching providers and 31 percent unlikely to recommend their provider, those providers that fail to listen to their customers are at risk of churn and missing out on potential growth opportunities.
This disconnect in the way businesses communicate with their customers is not unique to the financial services industry, but really is an issue facing all businesses. We are now operating in different environments than in the past. Business owners need to understand not only the role of technology in their communications, but listen to how customers would like to be communicated with. At the moment it’s all one way traffic with little consideration for customer preferences.
There are a number of ways in which businesses can help harness these opportunities:
1. Customers come first – the age old truth –There is no undervaluing the importance of the customer. Every decision should take into account the customer experience and journey. Remember they are the key drivers of your decision-making process and strategic planning.
2. Making communications easily accessible – As mobile devices and faster and more ubiquitous internet access change the way people consume information, it is more important than ever to understand how effective the channels are through which you communicate with your customers. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers how, when and through which channel they would like to be communicated.
3. Become independent to administration tasks – Companies must work harder than ever to be nimble, productive and turn a profit in an increasingly competitive business environment. There are a number of tools available to help streamline the communication processes, taking the pain away from administration and improving productivity. Research those tools that will improve the agility and efficiency of customer communications and see how you can dedicate more time to more efficient and worthwhile engagements with your customers.
4. Avoid jargon and acronyms – Acronyms and complex language can be daunting and alienating to customers. Work to communicate in their language and limit technical jargon and acronyms to produce better results and a more engaged customer base.
In today’s competitive times, building revenue growth through customer retention and maximising cross- and up-sell opportunities is an important objective for marketing and sales teams. These teams are also under increasing pressure to find better ways to connect and communicate with each customer on a personal level. A few simple changes to the ways in which businesses communicate with their customers can yield significant retention results with a more engaged customer base.
– Nick Smith is vice president at Thunderhead Asia-Pacific