small business communication Archives - TAB Corporate

5 Tips for Improved Customer Communications

customer communication

When it comes to operating a successful business, nothing’s more important than communicating effectively with your customers. Adopting the wrong tone in your marketing or sales messages, neglecting to reach out in formats where customers generally “live” and failing to reply to inquiries in a timely way can damage your brand now and into the future.

Fortunately, there are many ways to connect with your customer base (and to address prospective customers as well). Here are five tips on improving your efforts at customer communications and reaping the benefits of a stronger relationship:

  1. Use language that your customers use. All too often, businesses forget that their customers rarely understand the intricacies of their products or services as well as they do. Their written and verbal communications occasionally lapse into the use of technical terms, acronyms or other industry-specific jargon that “normal people” don’t understand.

For this reason, it’s vital that your customer service representatives speak clearly and avoid using any potentially confusing business terminology. When speaking on the phone, these individuals must be able to answer questions and offer guidance in a language understood by the vast majority of your customers.

  1. Describe your business in 30 seconds or less. We all know about the value of having a good elevator speech. Being able to succinctly describe what you do and how your products/services benefit people is a key element of successful customer communications.

If you haven’t already done so, put together this elevator speech and make it as concise and appealing as possible. The business site Bytestart advises that you try out your elevator speech on people outside the walls of your business, since this can help determine “if you’re speaking in an appealing way to someone outside your company.”

  1. Increase your social media presence. Chances are, you already have a social media presence—but are you doing all you can to leverage that presence with respect to customer communications? One place to start is by creating a Facebook community, where you can continuously post updates and special offers to an established group of fans and followers. You can also invite them to share their thoughts on your business, good or otherwise, as long as you stay on top of the online discussion and respond honestly and in a timely manner.
  2. Focus on what’s important to customers, not what matters to your business. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other sites, keep in mind that the focus is on the customer, not your business. Sure, you can report on news and product updates, etc., but also “get in the habit of sharing content that your target audience would enjoy reading or watching,” says marketing expert Mike Templeman. Such content can range from “funny memes or [a] heart-warming video” to value-added tips on how to address nagging business problems. As long as your content is informative and engaging, you’re communicating with your followers.
  3. Always reply to customers as quickly as possible. One of the most frequently mentioned customer grievances is the slowness with which businesses respond to their questions or complaints. By implementing policies that result in prompt customer replies, you’ll likely have a strong differentiator from competitors. Look for quality automated answering systems that keep “hold time” to an absolute minimum. Or, when possible, reply to inquiries with an after-hours or weekend email, letting customers know their concerns are on your mind. This helps build trust and serves as a foundation for long-term loyalty.

Be on the lookout for opportunities to enhance your own abilities to listen and communicate. Also take measures to ensure your customer-facing employees are doing all they can to represent your business in an attentive, caring fashion.

Want to learn more about quality customer communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

Tips to be a Better Public Speaker

public speaking tipsIn addition to countless other responsibilities, many CEOs and business owners serve as the face of their brand. There may be no better opportunity to fulfill this exacting duty than by appearing before audiences as a public speaker. It’s a powerful way to showcase your business and communicate the depth of your industry expertise.

But the art of public speaking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Even those who are adept in this field always look for ways to improve their performance. If you regularly receive invitations to address a public forum—or if you’re just starting out—here are tips for becoming a more compelling (and sought-after) public speaker:

View your material through the eyes (and ears) of your audience. Some speakers forget that the people they’re addressing don’t know as much as they do about a given topic. They fall into the habit of speaking “over” their audience—using jargon or technical language, rushing through complex material without offering sufficient explanation, and so on.

One way to overcome this trait is by breaking down your subject matter and finding ways to explain material in brief, easy-to-understand sections. Make sure people understand the first idea you want to convey before moving on to other topics. Use simple language as much as possible, to increase the likelihood your audience follows as you progress through your presentation.

Enhance your communications skills. Eye contact and clear enunciation are two of the most valuable skills a public speaker can possess. Rather than reading from a prepared speech, practice looking up at your audience and making eye contact with people in the back of the venue, in the middle and up front. This helps you connect with the audience and enhances their willingness to trust what you have to say.

When speakers get nervous, they often speak faster and lose people due to poor enunciation. Practice speaking slowly and making sure you pronounce clearly (and loud enough for those in the back to hear). This approach will lend greater impact to what you want to convey.

Vary speech patterns and use more body language. No one will pay attention for long if you simply stand before the lectern and deliver your speech in a monotone. Carefully review the content of your presentation beforehand and look for places to modulate your delivery, adding emphasis to key parts and vary the way you talk.

Equally important, adapt gestures and other body language to accompany your speech. “Make sure your gestures and words are synonymous,” advises business communications expert Jill Schiefelbein. If you itemize a series of key points, “make sure the numbers you’re saying match the number of fingers you’re holding up.” Also, walk around on-stage and “move to transition between points or stories or characters.”

Practice, practice, practice. Every public speaking expert says the same thing: Practice until you’ve got your presentation down cold. Rehearse before a small group of friends, colleagues or family members, and invite their feedback and suggestions. Rehearse in front of a mirror. Make a video of your presentation, then watch it with both the sound turned on and off. This will make you more conscious of how your body language syncs up with your words.

Practicing is an effective way “to combat your nerves when the time comes,” says serial entrepreneur Jennifer Spencer. “Muscle memory takes over your brain, and you begin to deliver your message without flaw.” It’s essential to “steady your nerves at kickoff time.”

Delivering an informative and engaging presentation will boost awareness of your brand and your status as an influential thought leader. That’s more than enough ROI to justify the time and effort needed to become a great public speaker.

Want to learn more about high-level communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!