Proactive Communications with Customers is Key

Lauren Krause
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Businesses know customer communication is a key to success across many industries, but a surprising number of companies don't put that knowledge into action. Employees speaking with customers often lack training or confidence for dealing with difficult situations, and a reliance on heavy scripting often leaves customers unsatisfied with interactions. Proactive customer communication helps organizations deliver better service, increasing both satisfaction and sales.

Training plays a vital role in proactive customer communication, but businesses should provide employees with all the tools necessary for ongoing customer service. Scripts are a good place to start, especially in a call center or heavily regulated environment, but without the ability to go off script, CSRs come across as stilted and uncaring. Teaching employees to follow protocols while enacting creative solutions provides them with a better chance at success.

Tara Kelly, the CEO of SPLICE Software, recommends empowering employees and customers with options as a way to increase proactive customer communication. When neither party has any options with regard to the product, service or issue, then real communication is impossible. Kelly says that even the smallest choices can enhance communication; let employees customize their approach to phone calls or face-to-face interaction, and give customers options when it comes to purchasing, loyalty rewards, returns or information access.

The evolution of communication means employees aren't always speaking with customers vocally. Online interaction, including email and text, makes up a lot of customer interaction, especially for organizations with a strong Internet presence. Being proactive means evolving to match customer needs; organizations should give CSRs the ability to communicate with consumers who prefer using mobile devices, texts or online contact forms. Making nonverbal communication efficient and easy for customers enhances communication abilities across your organization.

No matter how proactive your organization is, unhappy customers are part of business. Planning ahead for interactions with unsatisfied customers increases a CSR's chances of turning the situation around. Communicating with irate customers involves an enhanced set of skills. When the customer is impatient or screaming, the CSR must be able to control his own emotions and reactions. Listening, expressing sympathy and working to resolve the situation — rather than arguing about the customer's point of view — is the best way to approach a screaming customer. Take a proactive approach to irate customer communication by staging role-playing sessions that test CSR reactions and train employees to remain calm in all situations.

Customer service is an evolving component of every business. Communication structures change as cultures and technologies do, so companies must work to keep up through new policies and the ability to embrace better approaches. Take customer communication to the next level in your organization through a proactive approach that combines training, technology and employee empowerment.


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