Businesses can take advantage of direct access to customers through mobile devices such as a smartphone and tablet, instead of traditional snail mail. Many industries are already using CCM systems successfully such as utilities and financial services – but many still need to catch up and overcome security fears of their customer’s details being accessible online (such as the insurance sector).
Those using it well have shown that CCM systems help customers to save money by not having to call expensive phone lines, and there is improved customer relations to help increase customer retention, especially managing “at risk” customers. Businesses can also better analyse customer activity to be able to offer relevant cross and up-selling opportunities, and better automate document processes e.g. emailing/posting details to and from the customer.
Here are my top tips on improving your customer communications across multiple channels
1. Adapt to online habits of your customers – if they’re online you need to be too
Customers now expect communications via the web, SMS, mobile apps and email and access to customer services 24/7. Yet it is surprising how many industries, such as utilities and insurance, still need to adapt customer service channels to communicate with customers via these types of technologies.
Survey your customers and ask them what form of communications they prefer. There are currently about 10-15 per cent of communications being delivered in electronic channels and we expect this to steadily grow as the trend towards online communication continues.
2. The end of paper statements – encourage customers to receive all their information digitally
Despite the clear business benefits and the growing demand from consumers for more online services, there are still some industries – such as retail banking and utilities – that have to actively encourage customers to make the transition from printed communications to electronic transactions. Electronic communications are shown to benefit both customers and helps businesses to cut costs and provide tailored information.
3. One company; one voice
In some large organisations with a variety of divisions and products or services, there are multiple CRM systems targeting a wide range of customers. Although there is a general trend towards business consolidation, many divisions still operate in relative silos; missing out on ways to work together to understand new markets and potentially share customers.
In a drive towards greater efficiency, big businesses need to identify ways that different departments can integrate CRM systems and ensure customers receive consistent messages from the company, e.g. distributing one statement to customers for all utility services or allowing them to speak to one person in a call centre about all the products they use. This will improve customer communications as it ensures customers only receive relevant information that they’re more likely to respond to and gives ‘one voice’ to the company.
4. Gaining trust from customers – no hiding details in the small print
Many have argued that consumers do not trust their utility company – that the big UK utility companies are continually making vast profits at the expense of customers who face ever-increasing and confusing bills. In response, utility companies have been making efforts to improve customer relations by explaining in the media why prices have increased due to fluctuating wholesale energy costs – and most recently beginning to drop prices.
What is also important in gaining trust is being clear and honest, and in the case of utilities, they need to communicate clearly and honestly to each individual customer. A personalised statement that clearly explains what they’re being charged for is more likely to make the customer feel reassured. This is one step towards gaining trust, and together with more customers using smart energy systems that help them understand their energy usage, transparency will be key.
5. Review your current customer communications strategy – is it up to scratch?
With a focus on the bottom line it can be difficult to find time to analyse your customer communications and identify better ways to engage with customer. Your customer database is your goldmine of information and a good customer communications management system empowers you to make the most of every customer touch point by creating insightful, impactful, real-time customer communications. Its value should not be underestimated, so keep it up-to-date and regularly ask your customers how they want you to communicate with them and to review of your services.