Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as Channel Partners and Novatech.
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The huge advances in all things web-based, including the introduction of 5G, means businesses can now interact with customers in more and more efficient ways. That presents lots more opportunities to strengthen the customer relationship.
Automation could be your secret weapon
However, no customer wants to feel like they’re just a ‘number’. Use of automation should be balanced with ensuring the customer has a convenient, personalised experience. A good example would be to introduce a cloud phone system and assign agents unique virtual numbers. That way, customers can talk to the same person every time they call.
Let’s look at some other ways to empower your customer relationships using technology.
1. The customer relationship management system or CRM
A CRM system is a vital tool in your armoury. It combines several valuable elements in just one solution. That includes all the important information about your customers - purchases, complaints, etc. - to all other communication they’ve had with your business. Statistics indicate that using a CRM can improve sales performance significantly.
Your CRM can also stop customers falling off the radar:
Send gentle reminders to customers who haven’t shopped with you in a while.
If you can see that a user has visited your support pages you could send them a message to check they got their problem solved.
CRM systems are there to offer improved access to customer data and increase customer satisfaction and retention.
A good CRM can help you centralise and streamline your communications:
Get to know your customers better and personalise your communications with them.
Target segments of your customer audience and run specific campaigns to progress sales.
Nurture current customers with newsletters and surveys.
By answering questions quickly - and sending out customised emails and docs quickly - you will create added value in customers’ minds.
(Articulate Marketing is a Hubspot partner, so of course we recommend Hubspot CRM for all your customer engagement and marketing needs!)
2. Use technology to automate the content marketing process
Ramp up your online presence with content marketing. Done properly, that strand of your marketing efforts can boost your reputation and reinforce your trustworthiness.
For example, email marketing is an area that’s easy to set up and personalise with tech. Use it to welcome customers to your company and keep them engaged in an ongoing conversation. Regular communication is the foundation of better relationships.
Always keep in mind your audience demographic. Make sure content is written purely for them. Work out how frequently you should be promoting your content, and write in a style your users like. Make your content easy to read and understand to build trust. Maintain consistency and don't be salesy - you’re there to provide help not sell.
Tech can help you track and analyse your results. Tech-driven analytics lets you find the channels and types of content that’s winning you new leads.
3. Get to grips with chatbots
Instant messaging is becoming increasingly popular. That’s both for personal communication and interaction with brands. And now with advances in machine learning, it’s easy to set up more intelligent live chat tools. This means that when customers are on your website they can chat live right away and get accurate answers to questions. All without an actual customer advisor being present at the start.
Chatbots help you give out rapid answers to simple queries. As well as reducing initial response-time, they help resolve customers’ issues in the shortest time possible. They can also help users navigate around a website in the quickest and most efficient way. Since users are interacting with your brand in real time, you’ll also be able to gather accurate information. All this is invaluable for building close, lasting customer relationships.
4. Social media is a dynamic and interactive environment
It’s easy to forget that social media marketing is relatively new technology. Don’t neglect the ways in which its use can strengthen your customer relationships. Be on the alert for mentions, posts, and forums to identify where customers are seeking help or information on your products. Use social to answer queries and see it as an opportunity to connect with your customers and build brand loyalty.
90 percent of people read a review on social networking sites before they decide to buy a product. That makes it worthwhile to encourage customers to post positive ratings and testimonials. You can then add these to your site to offer social proof of the value of your product or service.
Consider all social platforms as a place to connect. For example, according to Sprout Social, 80 percent of Instagram users follow a business on the platform. Users see it as a positive way to engage.
Use technology to automate social media processes, including auto-posting, scheduled posting, and verifying your engagement. Instead of wasting time on the menial tasks related to managing social media campaigns, you can engage with customers and focus on growing your business.
5. Automate replies or use request a call back
Contact centre solutions can help to improve your relationship with customers significantly. Intelligent use of the best tech in the field will give you an edge on your rivals. Callbacks or automated replies are prime examples.
When customers request a call back their call is held in the queue to get automatically returned, as an agent becomes available. This can lead to lower abandonment rates and shorter handling times. As a result, it can vastly improve customer satisfaction - not to mention staff morale.
Nowadays, with the many advancements in telephony, there are lots of call back software solutions available. They don’t cost the earth and can help you manage business peaks and volume fluctuations with ease. All the while, also boosting customer satisfaction.
6. Use automated feedback surveys
Don’t always assume a customer is satisfied with your service if they don’t complain. Surveys give you specific information about positive and negative perceptions. Understanding these perceptions can help you improve many areas of your business. Using automated survey tools like Typeform is easy and quick. Capturing electronic responses means you can survey thousands of people.
Always have clear goals in mind when conducting surveys. Use follow ups to assess whether the changes you later implemented actually worked. Let customers know how much you value their help and tell them how you used their responses. This will all help to foster those invaluable close customer relationships.
Technology, such as the internet of things (IOT) and other developments that aid connectivity is a godsend for businesses. It offers lots of opportunities to connect with customers and make the customer relationship stronger. So long as it’s used in the right way.
Customers today have higher than ever expectations
If you don’t give customers an above-average experience they’ll never revisit your brand. The majority of customers stop doing business with a company after one bad customer service experience. And they’re likely to share that bad experience with others, so it’s a double-whammy.
Customers today take away the ‘experience’ of a brand. People want speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service. Technology can provide you with all these things, as long as you remember it’s ‘all about the customer’.
Guest blog author: Sam O’Brien - RingCentral UK
Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. Here is his LinkedIn.
(Although we don't often do guest blogging on this platform, as a RingCentral client, we were happy to collaborate here!)