The gap between business perceptions and consumer expectations is alarmingly wide and often causes many businesses to lose customers and fall behind competitors. But not you. Because we recently conducted an in-depth survey into consumer communication preferences, and we’re going to share it. After reading this guide, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to meet your customers’ expectations and keep them coming back.
Starting with current stats on business-to-customer communication, we will dive into three key ways you can master the techniques needed for customer retention and satisfaction. Then, we will explain how to bring it all together with a messaging solution.
The State of B2C Communication
From our research, we’ve found that business perceptions are completely misaligned to what customers actually expect. The majority of businesses assume rather than finding out how customers actually want to communicate.
Choosing the Right Customer Channels
The key is to assess your communication methods thoughtfully, ask important questions, and base your decisions on feedback from your customers rather than your own conjectures.
Consider the following statistics based on current businesses and where you can improve:
- Are you one of the two-thirds of businesses that think a customer wants to engage via phone call or email?
- Over 50% of businesses say their communication with customers is old fashioned. What do you think when it comes to your own communication methods?
- Are you among the 42% of those same businesses that say they don’t plan on changing in the next year? If so, why? What might be holding you back?
Many business owners can feel overwhelmed by new channels and technology or stretched thin by current communication methods. But now is the time to understand customer preferences and cater to them. It’s time for businesses to become driven by customer feedback and expectations rather than assumptions. Because the businesses that adapt to what the customers’ needs will survive and thrive while those that don’t will fall behind.
A Customer Engagement Conundrum
According to our research, there are three actionable steps you can take to better meet your customers’ communication needs and keep them coming back.
Tip 1: Make your landline textable.
If 89% of customers prefer communicating with a business via texting or a messaging app, it’s time to make your landline textable. This is step one in engaging your customer—meet them where they want to meet you.
By making your landline textable, you create a single point of contact for all your customers. Some businesses add a texting line but run into the challenge of promoting both that number and their landline number. By having one line, you eliminate the confusion that can come with multiple numbers and make it easy for your customers to contact you.
Once your number is text capable, promote it everywhere. Update your Google My Business listing, and add it to your website. If your phone number is listed on any materials like your store signage or promotional items, change those up to include the update that your number is textable.
If you are on the fence about customers wanting text as a way to communicate with you, consider the fact that this expectation isn’t something new. Even before COVID-19, 89% of consumers wanted the option to message a business. And that preference has only increased in face of the pandemic. In a survey we recently conducted, 61% of consumers reported exchanging text messages with a business in the last 30 days and 12% reported having exchanged a text message with a business in the last day. Almost 90% of consumers say they are likely to return to a business they first visited because of pandemic-friendly services, like texting. Texting has provided increased convenience not only for customers, but businesses as well.
While many businesses were pressured to consider offering the option to text, it’s clear that this was not just a quick solve. Texting is critical to modern customer engagement and is here to stay.
Tip 2: Identify points in the customer journey where engagement is needed.
A little hint: customer engagement needs to be everywhere! Take time to map out your customer journey, all the way from initial search to return visit, and pinpoint where you can add or increase engagement. Because you already know that texting is an effective way to increase engagement, look at each step to see where it can be implemented helpfully.
- Initial search. It’s likely that your customers will find you online and land on your GMB listing. If you include a textable number here, they can immediately connect with you and start a conversation.
- Website visit. Including a text option on your “contact us” page is a great way to promote engagement.
- First inquiry. An important way to increase engagement is by making it easy to continue conversations started online in a live chat. You can do this by converting website conversations into text conversations.
- First visit. Consider your first visit from a customer perspective. Is the transition from online to offline seamless? Are they getting text reminders for appointments?
- Payment. You can increase both the speed and consistency with which you are paid by sending payment requests via text.
- Follow Up. You can also increase (drastically!) the amount of reviews you receive by sending a review request link via text. This type of invite engages customers and actually gets them to leave a review.
- Next Visit. You can use text to stay connected during the in-between, with follow-up, personalized promotions, and feedback requests.
If you engage at every stage in the customer journey, you’ll build a strong relationship, increase engagement, and stay connected.
Many businesses that have already implemented texting abilities have seen the benefits it has brought to their company. Not only are businesses able to answer questions and resolve any customer concerns faster, but they have found texting to be an easier way for their customers to communicate with the business. This has meant faster responses from leads, and more business.
“The real shocker is how fast it happened when we installed a messaging software [on our website]…It was shocking how quickly we could answer questions, and how quickly they would go from that to booking a trip.”
David Taylor, Kai Kanai Adventure Tours
Tip 3: Deliver a personalized experience.
It may seem obvious how texting can make an experience more personalized and therefore more engaging. But just in case you’re looking for some specific examples, we’ll go ahead and give you a few to think about how they could fit in with your business model.
- Send Personalized Appointment Reminders. Sending personalized appointment reminders (with name, date, time, and any special notes/ instructions) via text or email is a great way to make the experience feel customized. If you’re a service based business sending folks to people’s homes, consider including the name of the delivery person or the person doing the job.
- Answer Specific Questions for Your Customers. This can happen in a few ways. You can include options for customers to reach out to you via email, your website, or text. If you’ve introduced texting with an appt. reminder, you can check in throughout the customer journey to make sure specific questions are answered.
- Collect Feedback and Communicate Any Updates. Asking for feedback directly via text will increase your engagement with the customer and your chances of finding out if you need to fix something that the customer may not have told you about otherwise. It’s also a great chance to communicate any changes. If a service date has changed or an item is now in stock, texting the update puts you right in the palm of your customer and they’re more likely to engage.
The Case for Business Text Messaging
Realistically, even texting can present some difficulties. But with the right platform, you can easily overcome these challenges.
Sending the Right Message
Realistically, even texting can present some difficulties. Businesses commonly report that text messaging is:
- Difficult to standardize
- Time consuming
- Presents too many points of contact
- Has too many disconnected messaging channels
But with the right platform, you can easily overcome these challenges. Rather than just adding text messaging to your channels, look for software that can consolidate all of your communications and seamlessly integrate into what you already have in place. The right text messaging software can:
- Consolidate all inbound messaging channels into one, easy-to-manage inbox
- Allow conversations to transition seamlessly between employees
- Track and manage leads as they come in
So if you’re looking for a great system of text messaging software to help you become more effective… it’s time to meet Podium.
How Podium can help.
- Consolidate inbound messages into one inbox
- Build your online reputation on the sites that matter most
- Easily connect with customers from your website
- Get paid even faster via textCollect feedback to improve and get better
- Get a free textable number
- Capture leads from your website
- Grow your business
- Convert more leads
How Podium can help.
From small businesses to nationally recognized brands, Podium can help anyone improve their customer engagement when they use the right software. If you’ve been searching for a way to build your business, Podium is for you.
It’s time to modernize your customer interactions and deliver the communication methods that your customers expect and need.