We sat on the runway for more than a half an hour before the pilot told us what was going on. Customers were grumbling and getting hot under the collar wondering how long THIS delay would last (we’d just waited almost an hour in the gatehouse for some missing flight attendants.)
“This is the pilot speaking,” we finally heard, (and thought “It’s about time!”) “There are 27 planes in front of us.” He said we could use our cell phones and gave us a time estimate for departure. We settled down to calling and texting and informing those who were picking us up or holding dinner. Knowing, rather than guessing what was next, made it just a little easier to sit still.
More than ever before, customers crave current, clear, concise, honest and authentic communication. They want the truth and they want access to it NOW. They want to “look under the hood” and see what you’re really about. They want to know about the deals you are offering and also want to know how to reach you when there’s a problem. They want to know when, where and why they should do business with you.
Customers want you to be proactive (yet protect their privacy at the same time.) They want to communicate with one part of your company, not two or three. They want to find your phone number on the front page of your website, and they expect that you will answer their calls promptly and preferably with a human being.
A customer wants more relevant communication than ever before. It’s up to you to structure your business so that everyone that needs to be, is in the loop.
Let’s take a quick look at how you can think about communication to make sure that happens.
First, there’s the “what.” Whatneeds to be communicated? Pricing and ordering info, product and process info, delivery info, what-to-do-if-things-go-wrong info, guarantee info, special sales info? Have a good conversation with your customer and find out what they need to find, select, buy and use – then comment on your product successfully. Remember to make it easy for them to recommend it too!
Then there’s the “how.” Howdo the customers want you to communicate this information to them? Do they want to see it on the web, in printed material, on the package, in the package, on the invoice, in an email or text? Do they want to hear it on the phone, or on a video or maybe on their IPod? Do they want it in the mail, in a catalog or on a postcard? Maybe they want it in many of these places at the same time, since they like choices.
Next comes the “how often.” How often does the customer want you to communicate to them? Only when there’s something special, on a scheduled basis, when there’s a problem, before there’s a problem? Can they sign up to get info? Opt in and opt out? Find what they need in your FAQ’s?
While you’re thinking about it – who inside your company needs to get what info, when and how often so they can keep the customer “in the loop?” Creating clear and easy to use communication channels will endear you to your customers and employees and create a competitive advantage.
Try drawing a “communications map” to “see” how communication flows (or doesn’t) in your company. It’s great to get a group together in front of the big white board with colorful markers to see the truth about where your messages go or don’t.
Enjoy the journey!