The way that businesses communicate with customers is changing. In the past businesses relied upon on a rolodex and a telephone while walking door to door to find potential customers. The goal of finding a potential customer is the same, but the most effective channel has changed. The methods that businesses use to communicate with customers are all effective in their own way depending on the purpose of the communication. It is important for your business to examine how each method of communication is utilized by your business. Businesses can communicate through many channels including phone, mail, e-mail, chat, or in person. Each of these channels has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are my thoughts about the different channels of communication. Feel free to disagree and comment below with your thoughts.
Face to Face
In person communication can be very complex depending on the goal of the communication. I believe that in person communication is best used for sales of complex products or services. Selling involves persuasion and coming to an agreement of the minds. It would be nearly impossible for a computer program to have every response needed to sell a complex product or service. To persuade a customer, your business needs to understand how the customer feels. Humans have empathy, but computers do not. Facial expressions, voice inflections, and speech cadence can be indicators of interest or disinterest from your customer. In face to face conversations your business has an opportunity to change the feeling of the customer because you can see the customer and can feed into their emotions. Perhaps over time, a machine can be trained with artificial intelligence to sell complex products or services, but the technology is not yet advanced enough to be as effective as humans. Until computers have feelings, the best way to sell complex products or services is in person. The phone comes in quick second place for complex product or service sales.
There is no better feeling than hearing the voice of another human when you need help. Let me provide some clarification. There is no better feeling than hearing the voice of another human who is ready to help you can get connected to them quickly, understand them clearly, and they solve your problem the first time. People are busy, and a phone seems to be one of the best ways to communicate because it allows us to multi-task. For example, you can talk hands free while commuting to work. This is a great convenience to your customer. The convenience can turn into a hassle quickly if one of the three detractors speed, clarity, or efficiency are neglected by the business. Furthermore, IVR systems cause inconvenience.
IVR: Please tell me your name.
Doug: No, Doug…Operator!!!
Phones are a good channel for communication in many regards, but they need to be managed correctly.
E-Mail and Snail Mail are Dead
When was the last time that you looked at the promotions folder in your Google account? Also, when was the last time that you checked your Hotmail account? Businesses bombard consumers with mass emails expecting action to be taken. Some businesses may argue that even though the e-mail is never opened the e-mail provides brand awareness. In my opinion, it is annoying receiving too many emails from the same company. If I need the product or service I will buy the product or service when I want to buy the product or service. At the time when I’m ready to buy something I will look on the internet and find the best option for the product or service that I need. I don’t want to go to Buca Di Beppo. I don’t want to know about every Toms shoe that comes out. Send me an email on my birthday and give me a coupon that is valid for a year with no fine print. Benihana you know how to do it. The case for snail mail is closed. Give me $0.10 for every piece of mail that your customer throws in the garbage. The key here with e-mail and snail mail is timing. You can have the right product, price, place and promotion, but bad timing. Don’t annoy your customers.
Machines Don’t Know Everything
Artificial intelligence is on the rise, but the technology is not perfect. While people at times may not be able to distinguish whether they are communicating with a computer or an actual human, if you chat with the Bank of America chat bot, Erica, about a trip to Disney World you may not get a response. Humans can switch topics with ease since they are not programmed with the logic to communicate on one topic. Furthermore, the subtle cues in human communication are only picked up by humans. For example, sarcasm can be taken literally by a computer.
Bot: Hi Human, are you interested in buying our software?
Human: No, I’m just visiting your website for no reason at all.
Bot: Thank you human, have a good day!
Chat bots can be very effective tools when used in servicing if customers have specific questions with known solutions. Checking an FAQ page is a terrible experience. Chat bots can facilitate the pain of searching an FAQ page for your solution because computers are good at that. Better than humans.
Social networks are not necessarily a channel of communication, but in a sense they are our digital humanity. In the past, our ability to connect with each other was limited to geographic location. Social networks of the past were formed by in person chance encounters and numbers in a phonebook. Digital social networks have opened the door for anybody to connect with anybody in the entire world if they have an internet connection. While a social network has challenges including too much information, false information, and unavoidable conflicting viewpoints; the benefits far outweigh the detractors. We can now form meaningful relationships with complete strangers based on interests that can be searched. A prime example of this is how Aubre from Vaspian found me by searching “contact center” in Facebook. She made a connection with me and formed a meaningful relationship that would have never been possible without a digital social network. We chatted through Facebook messenger and hopped on a phone call the next day. That is the power of social networks. Get your company involved in social now, and if you are already involved, get more involved.
I have an idea for how to bring snail mail back from the dead, and if you’re interested I would like to discuss my concept with you. Also, contact DJR Jeeves Consulting if you need an overhaul on B2C communication.