Monday, March 24, 2008

5 Classic Ways Companies Should Communicate With Their Customers

A company's success hinges on how it communicates, both internally and externally. Too much emphasis on interpersonal relationships can have a dire effect on outside interaction. Obviously, such a breakdown in communication between the company and its customers will greatly impact customer satisfaction and overall sales.

Businesses that regularly speak with their customers, whether it's directly or indirectly, will flourish. The advent of the Internet has obviously changed customer interaction for the better. However, one mustn't overlook some classic ways to touch base with customers, as some of them have certainly stood the test of time.

Below are the top five ways a company should communicate with their customers:

1. Telephone – No, I'm not referring to cold calls during dinnertime. I'm speaking of old-fashioned, remote customer service. When a customer has a question or concern, they will often want to personally connect with the company (and rightfully so). Whether this results in an inbound call from the customer or a friendly follow-up from the company, this keeps customer dissatisfaction to a minimum when executed properly.
2. Live Chat – Many people are glued to their computers these days, preferring digital communication to personal phone calls. A live chat option with a customer service representative is both practical and welcome in today's society, particularly if a company receives many inbound calls. No one likes to hang around "on hold," after all.
3. Newsletters – Newsletters are an excellent ways to keep customers abreast of new developments and, obviously, new products/services. Print newsletters aren't as common as they used to be, but they are still quite effective for small businesses. The electronic newsletter, however, is flourishing right now and helping many businesses to improve their customer relations. However, companies should make any kind of newsletter an opt-in service, lest it be viewed as "spam."
4. Company Blog – One of the newest successes in the realm of customer communication is the company blog. Often written by higher-ups within the company, it can make even the biggest corporations feel as if it's one with the people. Like a newsletter, it serves as a news service. However, it also encourages highly valuable customer feedback in the form of comments.
5. Customer Surveys – How will a company know what its customers want if it doesn't ask? Customers should be surveyed on a regular basis. However, companies should make this feel like a painless process for the public. Offering prizes to random participants is one of the most effective ways to garner a widespread partaking in a survey.

Companies should never stop experimenting with new technology, such as social networking sites and applications. However, the communication methods above are tried and true ways to keep communication flowing between a company and the widest audience possible. Perhaps older methods like the telephone really will become obsolete one day, but some of them are still quite effective.

Heather Johnson is a freelance business, finance and economics writer, as well as a regular contributor at Business Credit Cards, a site for business credit card and best business credit card offers. Heather welcomes comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address

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