How to Be More Responsive to Customers

How to Be More Responsive to Customers

The speed of customer responsiveness can make or break your business. Here’s how to be more responsive to customers—and boost your customer loyalty.

It’s no secret that consumers and businesses customers are like are becoming more impatient and more demanding. Customers expect businesses to respond to them quickly, if not immediately, and it’s putting pressure on small businesses.

Here’s a closer look at what customers expect from businesses, customer responsiveness trends, and ways you can be more responsive to customers.

Customer expectations are rising

Business owners that Broadly surveyed in The State of the American Small Business 2019 are feeling pressed to deliver rapid service and customer support. The majority (55%) reported feeling like they had an hour or less to respond to a potential customer before the prospect moves on to a competitor.

In fact, they’re right: One-third of consumers in the study expect small businesses to respond to them within an hour to earn their business. And over half of customers (51%) will definitely go elsewhere if your business takes six hours or more to respond.

In a survey by Zingle, the number-one thing customers say would improve the customer experience is, “Faster response times.”

How small businesses respond to customers

What tools are small business owners using to communicate with customers? According to Broadly:

  • Phone calls: 89%
  • Email: 86%
  • Text messaging: 54%
  • Social media: 49%

Overall, consumers in the survey prefer to communicate with businesses by email (57%), followed by phone (50%) and text (27%). Although consumers age 18 to 34 also prefer email, fewer of them prefer phone (42%) and more of them prefer text (34%) compared to consumers in general. Clearly, as millennials and Generation Z come to the forefront of society, mobile communications will become more important for small businesses.

But companies often fall short when it comes to customer communication. More than six in 10 companies do not respond to customer service emails, according to a recent study. A whopping 90% of companies do not acknowledge to the customer that their email has been received. Even if they do respond, 97% of companies never follow up to see if the customer was satisfied with the response.

7 ways to be more responsive to customers

When it comes to how quickly you need to respond to customers and potential customers, there’s only one answer: As fast as possible. How can you be more responsive to customers? Try these tips.

  1. Ask your customers what they want. A survey of your existing customers can show you which customer service channels they prefer. For example, do they want the ability to make appointments on your website for your plumbing services? Would they be happy to deal with a chatbot if they got a faster answer? Your customers’ preferences may surprise you.
  2. Manage customer expectations. While you should strive to be as responsive as possible on each communication channel, you can also guide customers to the channel that will best serve them. For example, my hairdresser recently told me that a lot of people contact him via Yelp. Since he is frequently busy with clients and not able to check his phone for this type of communication, his website social media accounts alert customers that for a faster response, they should call the salon by phone.
  3. Develop procedures. Set benchmarks for how quickly your team needs to respond to customer inquiries or customer service questions, and make sure everyone knows these goals. Benchmarks may vary from channel to channel; customers may expect a faster response on Twitter, for instance, then they would on email.
  4. Educate your employees. Make sure your team knows how to answer customer service questions. You can create an online knowledge base with answers to common questions. This also helps ensure that your employees are being consistent in what they tell your customers.
  5. Provide self-service options. Something as simple as a frequently asked questions (FAQ) a section on your website can answer many of your customers’ questions without the need to contact you directly. A company that sells to business customers could offer regular customers the option to re-order products online instead of having to speak to their sales representative.
  6. Use technology. This can be as simple as setting up your Facebook Page to send instant replies or using a social media management app to track all of your social media channels in one place and get alerts of customer comments or questions. You can also implement customer service software to automate and streamline customer service. Zendesk, Freshdesk and Zoho Desk are among popular apps that can handle tasks such as prioritizing customer calls, answering customer questions via chatbots, and enabling customer self-service.
  7. Stay human. While speed is of the essence, rushing too quickly to help a customer can also cause problems. You and your employees must remember to listen to customer complaints and make sure you really hear what customers are saying. No matter how much technology and automation you implement, it’s the human touch that really makes the difference in being truly responsive to your customers.
Email Vs. Text Which One is The Better Lead Generation Channel

Email Vs. Text: Which One is The Better Lead Generation Channel?

One of the top priorities for every business is generating new leads. With so many communication channels available, it begs the questions as to which one will serve your needs the best from a lead generation standpoint.

While cold calling is the standard, perhaps even the most overused, way of contacting interested clients to turn them into leads, text-based communication is an effective alternative that you can use for lead generation purposes.

Email and text messaging are two of the most common communication channels. You will be hard pressed to find anyone that does not use either one of them at all times. These channels can also be used to generate new leads for your business.

The question is whether which one is, ultimately, the better lead generation channel. Even though both channels serve the same purpose, they are uniquely different in their own ways.

So let’s try to explore what the differences are and what makes them so effective. Consequently, this will determine which channel is best-suited for lead generation.

Email Marketing

No matter how much technology evolves and how many new, trendy marketing gimmicks appear, email marketing still remains as one of the top communication channels in all of marketing. Despite being the oldest channel, its effectiveness lies in its simplicity.

Whilst available data suggests that other forms of communication (like text messaging, push notifications and whatnot) are more effective in terms of open rate and conversion rate, email marketing still boasts the highest ROI (return on investment) among all marketing channels. A survey among 2,500 digital marketers by GetResponse has proven this claim to be true.

This makes it a pretty powerful lead generation to be reckoned with, albeit its shortcomings from a customer engagement standpoint.

So how do you use email marketing to turn potential customers into legitimate leads? You can follow these steps to ensure your success:

  1. Get people to opt in to your email marketing campaign.
  2. Segment people into groups using relevant criteria (age, gender, profession and so on).
  3. Start sending personalized emails to different segments, including relevant information for each group.

As far as the content of the email goes, make sure they are engaging. In other words, stuff like the subject line and the body of the email have to be attention catching (especially the former) as well as clearly stated. Additionally, include visual content to break up the wall of text. Most importantly, a powerful CTA (call-to-action) should be included either in the beginning or at the end so that people know what course of action you expect them to take.

Text Messaging

With over five billion mobile device owners worldwide, SMS is the only communication channel that can reach people on their mobile phones instantly. People spend a lot of time using their mobile platform. As such, from a lead generation standpoint, you should heavily focus on this channel.

Multiple reports show that customers prefer interactions with businesses over SMS as opposed to phone calls. More than that, almost half of the customers prefer to get offers and promotions through SMS. This means that people are already open to the idea of conducting business over SMS, thus making lead generation via this channel all the easier.

Lead generation via SMS follows the same fundamentals as email. Get people’s permission to text them, construct short and concise text messages with a CTA in the end, and finally start sending them out to your customers. Needless to say, personalizing messages for different demographics is a must.

Which is the Better Lead Generation Channel?

Both of these communication channels are vital in lead generation. To say that one is absolutely better than the other is virtually impossible. There are aspects where SMS excels in (better outreach, higher open rate and customer engagement) and there are certain aspects where email excels in (e.g. very high ROI).

Ideally, you can use both these channels to generate new leads but selecting just one requires you to carefully consider what the needs and wants are of your business as well as what objectives you intend to accomplish. In which case, it is totally down to your preference.