- NETMEDIA International
[Tribune] Communication, the cornerstone of customer relations
This content was originally published by Alain Bouveret.
In the digital age, customer communication plays an important role with regard to the company's image. In order to better understand and respond to consumer needs, it is necessary to possess the tools necessary for dialogue.
As the saying goes, you have two ears and only one mouth so you can listen twice and talk once. However, it is clear that in the Internet era, it's more of "big mouth with no ears", the opportunities to express oneself have multiplied without necessarily having the tools to encourage listening and dialogue. And this is never as striking as when we think in terms of customer relations. Indeed, there can be no relationship, that is to say etymologically no jointly created story, without dialogue and no dialogue without listening.
The NPS, a double-edged sword
The foundation of effective communication is listening. Behind every call, email or customer form, listening allows you to get in sync with the person on the other side, whether it is for advice, a solution or a simple positive interaction. It is no longer enough to simply provide a channel of expression to the customer, you must then have the ability to act. In concrete terms, since the creation of devices such as NPS (Net Promoter Score), we have seen satisfaction surveys flourish as soon as we interact with a brand. There is not a single act of purchase or customer service that is not followed by an email or a call to gauge the performance of the person we are dealing with.
If the intention is praiseworthy, the device, poorly mastered, can be counter-productive or even harmful for the company concerned because customers must of course feel able to express themselves but above all to be heard and understood. And one of the best ways to reassure someone that you are really listening to them is not to break the chain of conversation because of, for example, long response times, stereotypical and irrelevant answers, or a promise that is not followed by action. The risk for the company is to turn a potential prescriber into a detractor that will be complicated and expensive to recover.
From transactional marketing to relationship marketing
However, dialogue is not an immediate phenomenon. It takes place against a background and in stages. Listening, first of all, requires a more active approach than the current automated systems. It requires a certain degree of permanence and an ability to detect weak signals, which implies investing in the relationship in order to actively seek information and find the most appropriate response according to the context and the interlocutor. In short, we are shifting from transactional marketing to relational marketing. This concept is particularly vital as we move increasingly from an economy based on the act of buying to an economy based on renting and subscription without commitment, in which the brand's relationship with its customer is all the more important as the customer is free to leave at any time. If we add to this combination the fact that the consumer is now a recommending force whose voice ends up having more weight than that of the brands, we understand that dialogue is an essential criterion when it comes to preserving or conquering market share.
Fast responses to customer queries in order to build customer loyalty
The ultimate cornerstone of customer relations is a 360-degree management of this dialogue. It is not enough to just listen to the customer, you must also listen to your employees, who are in contact with the customer. But this cannot be limited to customer service or after-sales service, even if many of them have tools such as semantic analysis to identify indicators and find answers. It is vital to include the sales force that is in ongoing contact with customers and prospects. Some companies have found that giving their sales force the ability to communicate an immediate response to an unsatisfied customer can completely change the customer's perception of the brand. It is the feeling of having been listened to and taken into account that now prevails. We have therefore entered the era of relationships and companies must become the building blocks of these relationships. The strength of their listening skills dictates the quality of the dialogue they initiate with their customers over the long term - Mouths and ears each have their place in strengthening our relationships!