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5 Signs your customer communication is broken

By BRENT HAUMANN, Africa MD of Striata

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Communication is an important facet of our humanness. It’s how we learn new information, build relationships, and connect with one another. Brands communicate with their customers for the same reasons, whether it be to convey new information about the business, products or services, or to maintain a personal relationship with customers.

But, many businesses can be unaware that their communications might be doing more harm than good to their relationship with customers. This is often because communications are inconsistent and don’t present a single image of the business to the customer creating a disconnected customer experience. Inconsistency can stem from communications that have a completely different tone, look, and feel to one another and are caused by a number of factors that are regularly overlooked.

Businesses need to keep in mind that from a customer’s perspective, each and every communication they receive should be consistent regardless of the intention of the communication, the channel it uses, or the department that sends it.

So, how can a company identify when their communications are fracturing the customer experience?

  1. Unintegrated legacy systems and the absence of a single view of customer communication

When legacy systems are not integrated, it makes it difficult for a business to have an accurate and complete view of its communications operations. This makes it difficult to gain a complete view of all the communications a single customer receives.

2. Business silos with different goals and disparate ownership of channels

A company is made up of various departments and sometimes span across several regions, which can often lead teams to become isolated from one another causing communication gaps and inefficient collaboration. This negatively impacts consistency in communications to customers as one team does not have a view of the communications being sent by another.

It’s also often the case that communications to customers are being sent by operational teams like the IT department who are not concerned with customer experience. 

3. Data residing in different systems and messages sent via different platforms

Different departments’ communications strategies are often executed through different digital channels or platforms. For example, one department sends messaging via email and another by text, making it likely that messages sent to the customer will be different to one another and fall short of a seamless experience.

4. Distributed responsibility for communication across customer journeys and message types

There are many reasons a business needs to communicate with customers and a varying range of information it needs to convey in those messages. Communications coming from acquisition vs servicing teams across different message types such as marketing vs operational can result in communications that look nothing alike.

5. The concept of “set and forget”

With all the messaging that needs to be communicated to a large number of customers comes the need for automation. This helps to ensure messages go out on time, can be tracked, and contribute to reporting. But there is a tendency to forget about these automated messages once they’re set up, leading to branding, design and tone becoming outdated.

If a company identifies any one of these five obstacles to a smooth and homogeneous customer experience within their business, what can they do to fix it?

Well, the first step would be to conduct an audit in order to gain a view of the entire customer communications ecosystem and gain insight into any gaps within the various customer journeys. Once that is complete, the business must take a look at existing customer touchpoints and prioritise communications that are sent most regularly – this will often be bills, statements, or account summaries.

Now comes the most important part in restoring the customer experience: enhancing customer communications by making them consistent across the board. Small tweaks to individual messaging types can help a business in doing so while larger policies, systems and processes are being put into place. The key is to start from somewhere. A business must ask critical questions about the communications that are currently being sent out to customers to ensure that content is relevant. And, finally, companies should remove silos by enabling cross-functionality across teams of operators, marketers, IT, analytics, etc. Only by working together can a business implement the necessary changes to enhance the customer experience across all digital communications.

Inconsistency in communications can confuse customers, and often leaves them feeling dissatisfied with a brand. Customers who continue to be dissatisfied with the communications they receive from a business are more likely to turn to another provider. But, more importantly, ignoring a fractured customer experience ensures that a business loses out on the opportunity to connect more authentically to its customers. It is therefore crucial that businesses improve the consistency of customer communications to enable an enhanced customer experience which can be a deciding factor in whether it can not only survive but also thrive in today’s challenging economic landscape.

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