At the heart of every strong relationship is strong communication. The relationship between a business and a customer is no exception. If you want to form lasting connections with each and every member of your audience—connections that lead to loyalty—your team needs to master the art of customer communication management (CCM).

You probably communicate with your customers more than you think. Beyond the real-time customer support you provide, you’re also interacting with them each time you send them an email, mail them an invoice, or respond to a comment on social media. Anytime your customers are hearing or seeing words from your team, they’re receiving your communications.

Due to its broad reach, CCM is relevant to just about every person in your organization. Every team member—from the ones in your call center to the ones on your marketing team—needs to be committed to putting the customer experience first.

We’ll explain how your CCM approach can help your team build their communication skills and ensure your customers are happy at every point of the customer journey.

What is customer communication management?

CCM is the practice of forming and maintaining customer relationships through outbound communication. It comes into play each time you’re sending customers a message, whether you’re reaching out through a web page, phone call, text message, or another communication channel.

Your CCM strategy includes all of the processes your team uses to form connections with your customers. In a way, your CCM approach is embedded in your culture and your values, as it guides how your entire team works—whether or not they think about customers first as they do their jobs.

When customer satisfaction is low, falling, or stagnant, your current CCM approach is one of the first areas of your business you need to look at. This is because how you communicate can have a huge effect on customer retention, acquisition, and even your bottom line, for better or for worse.

Even when your brand is doing great, refining your CCM strategy can help you sustain your growth by building a strong customer loyalty.

Customer communication management best practices

There isn’t one perfect path toward great CCM. Every customer base is different. Above all else, you need to keep in mind what they’re looking for. After all, the goal of CCM is always to serve your customers as well as you can—and exceed their expectations as often as possible.

However, there are a handful of proven approaches that you can implement to set your team on the right path. Here are five of our best practices for building an effective communication strategy:

1. Use the right channels

The right communication channels for your team aren’t always what’s convenient for you. Rather, they’re the channels that are preferred by your customer base.

Modern customers often prefer digital channels for all forms of communication. More than ever, customers want to hear from you and speak to you through convenient, non-intrusive channels like SMS, live chat, and social media. With channels like these, your customer service team can provide faster support, while the rest of your outbound messages can reach customers where they’re ready and willing to listen.

At the same time, 61% of U.S. adults still prefer calling support teams when they have an issue to resolve. Plus, many older adults are still lagging behind when it comes to adopting digital communication channels—a fact that has actually caused an information crisis in the public health sector.

A solution that you can use is taking an omnichannel approach to CCM, which means blending together diverse channels for the best marketing, sales, and service experiences. Whether they’re online or offline, and no matter what device they’re using, your customers should be able to engage with your brand in one seamless experience, even if they’re switching between channels. Your job is to figure out what the right blend of channels is for your unique audience.

2. Personalize your communications

Nearly all marketers agree that personalization plays a huge role in growing customer relationships. Because strong relationships should be the end result of your team’s efforts, your customer communication strategy must aim to personalize every interaction.

At the very least, this means referring to your customers by name every time you reach out. But if you want to offer a truly personalized experience, you need to be collecting customer information at every stage of the buyer’s journey and use it to impress.

For example, if you own a dental practice, you can offer a more personalized communication experience by sending SMS notifications when a patient is due for an appointment. If you own a coffee shop, you can send a customer a discount for the exact drink they ordered last or order most often.

Using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help you manage and build upon all the information you have about your audience, as well as automate some aspects of the personalization process.

3. Follow up with customers

Sometimes, customers need to be sparked into action. When you want to keep customer engagement high, your CCM approach needs to include a follow-up process.

Most teams are already accustomed to making sure every customer gets a response when they reach out, but in order to boost loyalty, you often need to be the one to keep conversations going. You don’t want customer satisfaction or interest to fizzle out just a few weeks after they receive great service. Some examples of how you can follow up include:

  • Reminding customers about something they left in their online cart
  • Asking for feedback after a recent purchase
  • Sending birthday messages and coupons
  • Asking for and responding to reviews (both negative and positive ones)

Make engagement (and re-engagement) an ongoing part of your communication processes, so first-time shoppers always grow into loyal customers.

4. Reduce response times

Communication is happening faster than ever these days. People are having real-time conversations with people across the world. Now that advanced tech is a basic part of consumer lives, 82% of people expect your team to respond immediately. Effective CCM must prioritize response times.

Of course, not every company is able to offer 24/7 support, especially if you’re running a small business. If this is the case, you can boost your customer communication by adding automation to your strategy.

You’ve probably seen this approach before. When you send a question through a contact form or place an online order, you usually get an instant email or SMS that your submission has been received. Your business can do the same.

Many brands are also implementing chatbots on their Facebook pages and websites, so customers can make appointments or get common questions answered, even if a real team member isn’t available to help. Others are implementing widgets like Podium Webchat, which allows you to set friendly after-hours reminders or respond instantly via text when you’re available.

Another great CCM tactic is adding a knowledge base or FAQ section to your site, so your customers can get questions answered when you’re not available. A self-service option can even reduce the amount of messages you get on a daily basis, helping you further improve response times.

5. Be human

Great customer communication needs to be human. Even if you’re using a chatbot, your customers don’t want to feel like they’re interacting with a robot—especially through informal mediums like social media.

While your team should always remain professional and positive, you can form stronger, faster connections by adopting a more casual tone. Depending on your target audience, your customers should feel like they’re hearing from a colleague or friend when you communicate with them. For starters, this means limiting the amount of jargon you use, as well as eliminating formal greetings and closings like “dear” and “sincerely.”

Another way you can show your brand’s humanity and connect with users is simply by being honest. Be straightforward and transparent as you communicate, so customers know your word is one to trust.

Improve the customer experience

Creating the best CCM approach for your company needs to be an ongoing process. As technologies change and you learn more about your customers, you can shift the channels and strategies you’re using to make their experience as great as possible. By doing so, you can increase customer satisfaction in all areas of your business.

Learn more about how to keep up with consumers’ changing demands with our complete guide to modern customer communication.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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