You may have noticed a trend in business communications tech, where features and benefits are laser-focused on internal communication and collaboration, and the value of a connected team. We certainly don’t disagree that connecting with your team in real time, on your terms, can be transformative.
But business communications tools aren’t just for internal collaboration — they are a lifeline to your customers. Given how important customer experience is, we’ve focused our attention on building business communications solutions with the customer in mind – and here’s what we’ve learned.
Business Communications and Customer Expectations: What to Keep in Mind
Customer communication expectations are changing — rapidly. In fact, Salesforce’s fourth “State of the Connected Customer” report revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has elevated 68% of customers’ expectations around a brand’s digital capabilities. And 88% of customers surveyed expect that your business will accelerate its digital transformation as a result of the “new normal.” Your SMB needs to consider how it will communicate in this omnichannel world we inhabit.
Today, there are communications tools that can help your small business enable the work-from-anywhere flexibility necessary to attract top talent and support evolving customer communication expectations. Here are three strategies that can help SMBs stay ahead of the curve and simultaneously deliver the responsive customer experience consumers demand.
1. The Customer is Always Right, so Communicate the Way they Want
The adage “the customer is always right” can take on multiple meanings depending on the context of your business. But have you applied this maxim to your business communications services?
Take messaging. A whopping 85% of customers have stated that they would like to be able to message with brands, according to a recent survey. And 75% would be willing to spend more with brands that offer messaging.
Smart businesses know that if they open themselves up to send and receive messages, they’re creating another channel to delight their customers and fulfill customer expectations around digital capabilities. Solutions that allow you to text-enable your existing business phone number are a lightweight way to get started.
2. Untether Your Desk Phone
When customers call, your ability to quickly respond is directly related to their impression of your business — and their likelihood to purchase (or repurchase). Over 70% of customers believe that respect for their time is paramount when it comes to service. So attracting and keeping clients requires timely, top-notch communication.
However, traditional phone services can tie you to your desk or storefront – and many SMBs are moving away from landlines anyway. Among employees and SMBs, 62% use smartphones for work purposes.
But using a smartphone straight from your carrier isn’t ideal. You either have to use the same device and phone number for personal and business calls, or need to carry two devices.
Virtual business phone apps solve this challenge and offer maximum flexibility. With a business phone app, you can load your business phone line onto your personal mobile device, and still maintain a distinction between that and your personal line.
Wherever you are, you and your team members can see who’s calling, take and return calls at your earliest convenience, and provide faster and more responsive service for your customers. An interactive voice response (IVR) or “auto-attendant” can make dealing with after-hours calls easier. Many virtual business phone solutions offer call routing based on time of day, so you can choose to route calls to a specific team member or set an internal after-hours response schedule to share responsibility among team members.
3. Bring It All Together to Eliminate Silos
Once you sort out how to implement messaging and set yourself up with a calling solution, you’re almost there — there’s one final strategy that can add another level of sophistication to your business communications and make it easier for you and your customers.
If you’re talking and texting with customers, it can be hard to keep track of what happened and when. You have to scroll through your messages to find your last conversation, with no indication of the intervening phone calls that might have occurred mid-thread. The same goes for your call log. Switching from one app to another is time-consuming and ineffective, not to mention when multiple people from your team have had conversations with the same customer.
Customers need you to keep up: The same Salesforce report cited earlier noted that 76% of customers said they expected consistent interactions across departments. As a result, we’ve seen many different business phone providers offer integrations with leading customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, which help businesses manage and keep records of customer interactions.
If your business doesn’t have a CRM system in place, it may be wise to look into a virtual business phone solution that can help in this regard. Some features to consider include a unified conversation view that consolidates phone logs and text correspondence to make it easier to jump back in where you left off, shared phone numbers that let anyone on your team respond to your customers, and group messaging to keep everyone in the loop.
When businesses are able to stay up to speed on the conversations with their customers, they’re able to provide a much better experience for both their customers and their internal teams. Ready to bring your business communications to the next level for as little as $9 per user per month? Check out TalkNText and sign up for a free 30-day trial today!