5 ways business communications are changing — and what it means for you
Before the advent of digital communication, consumers could make a phone call, send a letter, or come visit you in person. But the rise of email, live chat, social media, SMS messaging, and online forms have made omnichannel communication a must for today’s consumers — and the responsibility to be available on every channel, all the time, brings with it its own set of pressures for business owners.
The Google generation doesn’t like to wait — they’ve become accustomed to receiving answers in an instant, at all times.
Three out of four customers say a fast response time is the most important part of a good customer experience (CX). Take longer than an hour to respond and 40% of millennials will try to contact you on another channel.
Let’s explore the five ways in which business communications are changing — helping you to both keep up with today’s consumers and to stay ahead of your competitors.
1. Communications channels have increased — and the right communications software is more important than ever.
In recent years, many businesses have been quick to promote their omnichannel customer communication abilities. But they’ve done so without adequately preparing themselves to deal with the influx of demand.
Just how pervasive a problem is this, and what sort of impact does it have on the bottom line?
- 62% of calls to businesses go unattended (either unanswered or through to voicemail).
- 89% of consumers are frustrated when they have to repeat themselves to multiple customer service reps.
- Providing an inconsistent omnichannel communication experience reduces organizations' customer retention rate by 56%.
It’s no good telling consumers to communicate with you on all channels if their messages are never answered. This quickly leads to frustration — and they’ll simply take their business elsewhere.
Successful implementation of an omnichannel communication experience is one of the best ways you can increase your customer acquisition and retention rates.
2. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for omnichannel communication strategies.
COVID-19 further fueled this widespread transition toward embracing omnichannel communication strategies.
With businesses forced to suddenly close their physical premises (and employees generally working from home), most scrambled to implement new communication channels to match their customers’ contactless interaction preferences.
- Just under half of all businesses say they have expanded their communication channels.
- 34% of businesses adopted texting because of the pandemic’s emergence.
- 77% of these businesses plan to stick with texting post-COVID-19.
It’s one thing to offer up a range of channels for consumers to pick and choose from. Unfortunately, effectively serving them across all these channels is another matter entirely. Ad hoc, decentralized strategies — relying on outdated phone systems and multiple different platforms — simply won’t do.
Almost 40% of businesses have struggled to respond to inquiries quickly, with the same percentage struggling to provide a consistent experience across all channels.
There’s only one way forward: to implement an all-in-one business communications software offering email, SMS, text, and live chat in an easily accessible platform.
3. If you don’t leverage communications data, your customer experience will suffer.
You’ve probably heard that we’re living in the customer experience (CX) age. These days, it’s not that the customer is king — it’s that their experience is.
But you can’t provide a memorable CX if you don’t even know what your customers like, want, or need. This is where customer communication data (i.e., the insights that customers provide your business in droves) comes in.
- 89% of companies compete on the basis of CX.
- Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable.
- Just 37% of companies are using their analytics to drive genuine value.
By conducting regular analysis, you can spot areas for improvement — identifying ways to make your communications strategy even stronger going forward. Create a self-sustaining cycle of improvement and you’ll soon begin to reap the rewards.
4. Technology automation is increasing — and it’s here to help.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be chained to your desk 24/7 to provide a first-class omnichannel communication experience. You can instead use automation (and technology more generally) to make it as simple as possible to receive — and respond to — your customers’ inquiries.
Take smartphones, for instance. A reported 62% of employees already use smartphones for work purposes. By adopting the right mobile app, you can stay on top of customer communications on the go, even if you’re away from your desk. Look for all-encompassing communication hubs that directly link calls, form submissions, texts, and live chat inquiries to the individual prospect that made them. Better still, seek out apps that can provide automated responses — guaranteeing prompt follow-ups at all times, without your employees even having to lift a finger.
Nowadays, you don’t expect marketers to manually collect all new prospect and customer data before uploading these details into an ever-growing spreadsheet. So why would you follow manual approaches when it comes to communicating with customers?
5. Centralized communication is an imperative.
Automation and technology are fantastic. However, all too often, their impact is hindered by one common enemy: silos. If your customer communication data is spread here, there, and everywhere, then no wonder you’re struggling to stay on top of it all.
The answer is to have a single, unified inbox that collects all of your communications. This provides increased visibility into your entire communications history, as well as making it far easier to respond to all inbound and outbound messages. You don’t have to flip back and forth between different apps to manually piece together each individual customer’s various communication touchpoints.
Customers will no longer have to repeat themselves to multiple agents — and your CX will go through the roof.
What sort of impact would a centralized communications platform have on your business?
For DCI Properties, as the company grew, so did sales and employees, so they looked into a new communications method. They implemented a single, unified communications inbox and quadrupled their sales within a year.
It’s time to go one step further with your business communications
The five business communication trends listed above are impacting businesses of all shapes and sizes, industries and geographies. But as insightful as these trends are, this post has barely scratched the surface of what they actually mean for organizations — and how businesses can respond to meet today’s new and novel communication demands.
Consumer habits are evolving by the second — is your communications strategy on a similar trajectory?
Download our guide, “The futureʼs calling: Why business communications software is the key to unlocking growth,” to understand precisely what tools and strategies your business needs to succeed.