Over the past 18 months, COVID-19 has impacted almost everything we do, from avoiding in-person banking and shopping in retail stores to conducting meetings through Zoom and Teams to doing more transactions electronically. For many organizations, these changes have meant a necessary adoption of mobile and digital interactions with customers, whether related to problem resolution or service changes, onboarding activities or just general customer communications. In the shadow of what we hope is a fading pandemic, one thing we can be sure of—we are not going back to the way we did things in the past. We have learned we can achieve things digitally that we never thought possible. Which means for those of us in customer communications management, the best thing we can do now is to look at how we are communicating with customers and consider how to provide a truly meaningful customer experience across this increasingly digital world. Here are six questions to ask that will get you started:
As document professionals, I don’t have to tell you the benefits of personalization. You have been hearing about them for more than a decade now. Certainly, companies that have implemented even the simplest of personalization solutions have found that doing so can reduce customer churn and deliver stronger brand identity. With today’s emerging technologies, it is time to go beyond using a customer’s name or simply recognizing what they have purchased and on to the next step toward hyper-personalization. This advanced form of one-to-one communication involves leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time data to create a richer customer experience by using intelligent approaches to managing and authoring relevant content to communicate with the customer based on a total view of the relationship. People will pay attention to hyper-personalized communications because they’re getting value from them and they’re more likely to engage with your brand and click through for further information.
It is important to review the specific language in all your communications: print and digital. Writing at a fifth-grade educational level will help you ensure clarity and understanding for the vast majority of the U.S. population, yet many organizations write for an eighth-grade level. Be sure you are not over-communicating your information and avoid technical jargon. Using short words and clear, concise language will resonate better with the reader.
It is important to keep in mind that emotions are running high right now and people can end up with a negative emotional response from both low intensity and high intensity communications. This ultimately can weaken their affinity with your organization and dampen further interaction and potential sales. However, if you bring positive emotions and positive sentiment into your messaging, especially in those high intensity communications, you can keep everyone calm and you can carry on growing that share of wallet.
Of course, part of the attention to consistency involves branding, the visual identity of your communications: the colors, the fonts, the layouts, the information and the words. However, it also means making sure that accurate information goes into those documents so customers feel they can trust the communications they’re receiving. For many organizations, consistency is challenging because there are different teams responsible for managing content that is distributed across different channels. One department creates traditional print communications, different teams are doing email and SMS and still other teams use different tools and processes to create new channels, like chatbots and intelligent voice assistants.
The way to address this challenge is to create a content hub. Managing all content in a single place can provide the needed consistency across disparate teams and channels. Consolidating content makes it possible to deliver the same message or the same authoring process for that message, regardless of whether it’s a disclosure, a marketing message or educational content.
The last thing to consider is how accelerated your responses are. Thanks to some awesome notable brands that understand customer service, customer expectations are high. It can be very difficult to create communications that respond fast enough to customer queries about new products and services or information they need from your company. If it is an IT-centric process, these communications can require programming to make any changes. A more efficient way is to allow business users to make the change needed and self-validate it across specific delivery channels to make sure it looks correct in their output. They can then sign off or route the communication to an approval process before it gets moved into production. We’ve seen companies reduce processes from 12 weeks down to one hour by empowering business users to author and manage content.
So, let’s recap: Aim for hyper-personalization and relevancy, optimize the clarity and sentiment in your communications, provide uniformity and consistency and speed up the process you’re using to create those communications. From there, I predict a more meaningful customer experience is in your future.
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