By Gina Blitstein

Communicating with your customers is paramount to retaining their loyalty and boosting sales. Your business’ voice should sing through in every interaction as your very best promotional tool. Yet in the everyday hustle-bustle of running your business, you may find it difficult to keep up with communicating proactive customer service. Those oh-so-important sales calls, service reminders, appointment confirmations, follow-up calls… can easily fall through the cracks while you’re busy attending to other matters. There is, however, no better opportunity to make contact with customers than for these reasons. Fortunately, there are technological solutions that can automate processes, making it easier for you to keep in close communication with customers with ease and convenience.

Benefits to Automated Customer Service and Communications

  1. Your message is well-considered, polished and consistent.
  2. Automated methods of reaching customers are far less time-consuming for you because you’re distributing the same message to an entire contact list at once rather than one at a time.
  3. You can easily segment your contacts according to their demographics or preferences for a targeted correspondence to those who may be interested.
  4. You’re not considered the nuisance “telemarketer.” The recipient can read your correspondence at a time when they are conducive to it (and possibly actively seeking such information).

In drumming up business…

Where once you or a staff member may have compiled a phone list to contact customers and leads with a sales pitch, today you can solicit business in a variety of electronic ways. Lists can be collected, maintained and sorted in your customer database. Interest in your offerings can be generated by informing customers of a sale on your website, via social media, or by distributing an email newsletter in which you highlight your products and services to those who’ve opted in. You can grow that potential client list with a contact form you’ve created and posted to Facebook. The key is to find ways to communicate that empower customers to initiate contact with you.

In routine communication

Physically calling customers to remind them of appointments and/or confirm them is a time-consuming undertaking. A much more efficient way to manage such communications is to automate it through a customer scheduling program. You determine when to send the reminder, and one is automatically generated and sent – via email or text to the customer, who then can read it at their convenience and respond if necessary at a time of their choosing.

In follow-up and continuing customer care

Once a business transaction is completed, it’s always a good practice to make certain the customer was satisfied. An efficient way to accomplish this is to provide a short satisfaction survey for them to fill out. Responses to these surveys can help you provide excellent goods and services on a consistent basis. This is also an ideal time to invite them to review your business, too. Linking them directly to your Yelp listing or other review site will be both a convenience and enticement for them to do so.

Best Practices for Automated Customer Service and Communications

Keep your automated notifications consistent with your business’ professional image. Make certain they are attractive, well-composed, clear and concise. Just because they’re automated shouldn’t mean they appear or sound impersonal. Include relevant links, e.g., to your website and Facebook page, order details page, employee information page, or event calendar, in order to empower customers to interact with your online presence and/or in person.

Potential Pitfalls to Automated Customer Service and Communications

While the convenience, time-saving, and simplicity of communicating via electronic means is clear, it should by no means be a substitute for a human presence in your business. Stellar customer service must ultimately have a personable face to it. Communication in its most basic form is a person-to-person interaction.

Even if you choose to implement some automation into your process, make it a point to talk to your customers from time to time in order to retain personal contact. In face-to-face conversation, you’re more likely to learn things that will help you understand and serve your customers better. An offhand comment during a casual conversation, for example, may reveal that your customers consider your offerings more of a luxury than you did, possibly leading you to embark upon a more realistic marketing strategy.

Remember that you are merely automating the communication – not relinquishing control of it. Keep your communications fresh, current and accurate, and let your customers feel they are not being neglected. The impression you want to instill upon your customers is that you don’t want to miss an opportunity to communicate with them in every possible capacity.

Automation of customer communications can assist you in more efficiently and effectively serving your clientele’s needs, while simultaneously helping you market your business.

 


Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.