So many business communication conversations focus on internal communication and collaboration. Being able to connect with your team in real time, on your terms, can be transformative. But unified communications tools aren’t just a means to collaborate internally — they keep you connected to your customers, too. This is something we help our clients achieve with our unified communications solutions at Cloudli.
In 2022, you can’t afford to focus your attention inward. 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.” This means you need to think about the ways your business is available to communicate in the 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 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) keep pace 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 whopping85% of customershave 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.
But text messages aren’t the only way to leverage messaging for your SMB. Google Business Messages, for example, lets customers reach out via messaging straight from Google Maps or Google Search results. Prioritizing messaging in your communications strategy is a customer-centric approach that will likely pay dividends.
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). Over70% of customersbelieve 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. Further, many businesses are moving away from landlines. For instance, among employees and SMBs,62%use smartphones for work purposes.
Mobile phones offer added flexibility but are still not ideal. You have to use the same device and phone number for personal and business calls, or you have to carry two devices.
Cloud-based/hosted replacements and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solutions with business phone apps are options businesses should consider for maximum flexibility for their users and customers. With a business phone app, you can load your business phone line onto your personal mobile device but 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. In fact, many UCaaS 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 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 UCaaS 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 UCaaS 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.