In this technology driven world, there are thousands of different tools you can use to communicate with customers. We encourage you to be selective and build a couple of tools into your plan. Limiting methods of communication will help you be more consistent and productive. As we say at ZOOMcatalog, it is better to be really good at one thing, than subpar at everything.
One-on-one communication tools
We already covered the different types of one-on-one communication you should be planning for, which include check-ins, reviews and sales. There are a lot of different tools you can use here. When deciding which tools are right for you and your customers, ask yourself the following questions:
Is it accessible?
If your customer has to download and learn an entirely new app to be able to communicate with you, consider if this is a reasonable expectation. This will depend on the skill set and demographics of your customer base.
Is it organized?
Consider how you will track past and future conversations, log notes, and send customers appointment reminders ahead of time.
Does it align with our company image?
Whether you want to be perceived as innovative and ahead of the curve, or traditional and accessible could impact which tool you use to communicate with your customers.
One-on-one communication tools to consider
Choose one or a couple of these tools and build them into your communication plan. Master the tools you choose and stick with them to maintain consistency. If you find that you and your customers are running into issues with scheduling, accessibility, or organization, you may want to relook at the tools you have chosen and make the necessary adjustments.
Traditional phone calls
You cannot go wrong with picking up the phone for your one-on-one conversations. If you plan to handle your meetings over the phone, make sure to find a supporting tool to jot down notes, schedule follow up calls, and track who you speak with.
You can take your phone calls to the next level by moving to video conferencing. Especially if you are a remote business, the face-time you get with customers can provide a much more personal experience. Keep in mind that not every customer is going to be comfortable jumping in a video call every time you need to talk. Video calls are great for planned check-ins or sales calls and reviews, but outside of that you probably want to forgo the video and stick with a traditional phone call.
Email can serve as a great tool for questions and scheduling, but can quickly become unorganized and out of hand. Stick to email for one-off questions, call follow-ups, or to schedule a call. You may want to consider connecting your email to a CRM such as Hubspot or Salesforce - this will allow you to look at a contact and see a history of all emails with them.
Similar to email, text messaging can be good for quick, concise communication, but can be disorganized and at times, unwelcome. If you are considering using text messaging to communicate with customers, first assess how receptive they will be to it. Some customers may love the convenience and ease of getting a quick text message from you, while others may feel it is intrusive and out of line. If you do use text messages for customer communication, make sure you have a tool to track when, what, why, and who you are messaging.
More and more companies are starting to use messaging apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. These tools can check all the boxes when it comes to asking a quick question, to having a more in depth conversation. They can also help you stay organized and keep track of everything. With features that allow you to start channels with your internal team or invite outside guests (your customers), adopting a messaging app as your primary communication tool may be a great option. One warning we have is to be cognizant of how much time you are spending in your messaging apps, as they can quickly become an unproductive distraction.
General communication tools
These are the tools you want to consider when communicating with customers and prospects as a whole. These tools are an important part of your marketing strategy, which we will leave for another course. In the meantime, consider the following tools to manage your general communication.
As we said above, think of your website as your store, and your homepage as your storefront. Your website is an important tool in your communication plan, as most customers will interact with it when they first engage with you, and likely will continue to visit it throughout your working relationship. When it comes to your website, make sure you have set it up in a way that makes it easy to adjust and edit so that you can keep your messaging and graphic elements fresh and relevant.
Social media apps
Whether you manage all your social media pages individually, or use one tool (like Hootsuite or Buffer), as a tool, these apps will ensure you can quickly and easily post updates, news, and other relevant information to your followers. Additionally, you can use these apps to track posts from your colleagues, customers, competitors, and other inspiring accounts. Keep your finger on the pulse by not just posting, but by following and engaging with others.
Choose the platform carefully that you use to set up your blog. Look for features that allow you to easily write and publish new content, insert images and video, and format posts the way you need. Additionally, look for features that you can use to measure and improve the readability and SEO of your posts, enable visitor comments, and sharing by visitors. Another important feature to look for is tracking and insights - which you can use to improve your content over time. There are many different tools out there including Wordpress, Ghost, Blogger and Wix.
Email platforms allow you to send both marketing and operational emails to customers. Pick a platform that allows you to segment your contacts, build an opt-in page, enables contacts to manage their preferences, and again, enables tracking and insights. We will eventually dedicate an entire course to email marketing, as it can become one of the most valuable tools in your communication arsenal. A few to consider include Mailchimp, Hubspot, ConstantContact and GetResponse.
There are so many different tools and platforms available to you to build into your communication plan. Start by considering the areas listed above, but, since there is so much more information we would like to share, we ask that you please check back soon for more classes relating to digital marketing.