Check In or Lose Out

In many organizations, customer communication touches can be the most challenging to develop because they can be difficult to measure in terms of effectiveness and ROI. The most important question to ask when kicking off a successful customer communication strategy is, “What is the cost of not talking to our customers?” Try to gauge how much better your business could be simply by communicating with existing customers on a regular basis. If you’re not keeping them engaged, your competition is likely trying to steal them away.

Five steps to building a successful customer communication strategy:

  1. Determine any business challenges that could be solved by a customer contact stream.
    An example might be that you’re experiencing high volume and cost of calls to your customer service center. You can dig in to what’s driving those calls and see if there are proactive customer touch points that can alleviate the customer’s need to speak to someone.
  2. Define key metrics up front and then measure the impact of your contact strategy against them.
    In the example above, decide what the goals of your customer touch points are so you can measure whether the communications are effective in meeting them. In this case, it might be that driving the total number of calls down will suffice to deem the program successful, but it’s critical that the key performance metrics be set up front.
  3. Perform a highly detailed communications audit across your entire organization.
    This step is essential to really understanding what the customer experience currently is. In some cases, you might find that parts of the organization are routinely communicating with customers when a touch point isn’t necessary and, therefore, costing the company money. In other situations, you might find that multiple departments are communicating similarly—or worse, delivering conflicting information to customers at the same time. Without this step, most siloed organizations will have a difficult time knowing exactly what the customer is hearing or not hearing.
  4. Map out a multichannel strategic plan before considering tactics and touches.
    You’re most likely already touching your customers with some form of communication today, whether they are delivered by email or mail, or even by sales reps or customer care specialists who are following a script. By mapping out all the various channels of communication you have in place today, you can begin to see where there are gaps or overlaps and how to align your touches to be most relevant to improve your customer’s engagement with your company. When you’re ready with your map, you can start filling out the touches, frequency, content and audiences to drive your creative strategy.
  5. Get executives to buy into the idea that affecting your key metrics would be good for the company overall.
    This can be the most challenging part of the entire process because, as stated in the beginning, it’s difficult to guarantee the ROI of these efforts. It can also be hard to measure the cost of NOT pursuing a communication strategy that could result in loss of customers and sales. Try to find an ally, someone who can be an advocate for testing your efforts and giving the strategy enough support in time and resources to really measure its effectiveness. And attempt to put as much industry research or as many metrics in place as possible to showcase the value of the investment in your customers so it will be easier for them to get on board.

As with most strategies, you’ll need to give your contact stream enough time to produce measurable results, and you’ll want to revisit it regularly. That way, you’ll optimize not only the touch points, but also the content, timing and audiences, as appropriate.

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