Customer Communications

Many times, success in business depends to a large degree on the quality and frequency of customer communications. Effective communications help build customer loyalty since people respond favorably when communications are clear and to the point.

Customer CommunicationsWe regularly explore and invest in a wide variety of communications with our customers. We find it helpful to be prepared to adapt and change our communications strategy accordingly.

In a recent round of analyzing our communication practices we found these few tips useful.

Be consistent in your communications. It’s vitally important that messaging be consistent across all channels of your organization. If different departments or sales teams provide contradictory information to customers, confusion is likely, and can prove detrimental. So, consider consolidating systems, sharing information internally and being as transparent as possible in all your transactions.

Live in the same social media realm where your customers dwell. Your customers are already “living” on social media platforms that benefit their own businesses. Your business should be there, too.

If you haven’t already done so, direct your team to establish a viable, high-profile social media presence (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram). Don’t exploit that presence with hard-sell messaging. Instead, focus on gathering in-depth data about both prospective clients and potential vendors. Conduct ongoing conversations with your target audience, thereby building loyalty and trust. 

Explore differing tools and methods of communicating. Face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails, direct mail are all traditional methods of communication. But today even social media direct messaging, texting and live chat are becoming viable and more popular communication tools in business. Be open to any communication method your customer wants to use. As a rule of thumb, we find it best to communicate with your customers the way they want to be communicated to!

Create and communicate value. Our customers in the hardwood lumber industry are pretty savvy. They expect to receive the right hardwoods and the right price and time. It is not enough for the lumber to just be on grade. As a supplier, we have to be dependable, consistent, and reliable. That’s why we try to also focus on value. When we focus on the value our customers should receive from us instead of the features of our offerings, we find it helps create an open and honest dialogue.

As Beyond the Arc notes, if in your customer communications, “you see a lot of sentences that begin with ‘we’ or ‘our,’ it’s time to flip that messaging to literally put the customer first.”

Analyze the feedback you get. Every customer is different, and they all prefer various methods of communicating with their suppliers. By offering multiple methods—email, phone, text, etc.—you will also compile a significant amount of information on general communication preferences. Don’t sit on this valuable customer data. Conduct tests, try new approaches, explore new initiatives, and continue to analyze the results. The insights appearing from this data can also guide the way to a distinct competitive advantage

Effective communication is essential in all aspects of our business. Whether that be with a landowner, a logger, or another sawmill, good communications helps. The tools and methods are available. What’s needed is a fresh commitment to interact with people and let them know you are here to help them succeed, not the other way around.

What suggestions do you have? Let us know!

Tony C.
The Baillie Group
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