Clearly communicating your value proposition educates prospects about why they should pick you over a competitor, and helps customers understand why they should keep doing business with you.
Communication is essential to your success, in other words — especially in light of the fact that it’s much less expensive to retain an existing customer than to sign up a new one.
After all, communicating clearly can quite literally be the difference between a good customer experience and a poor one. In analyst firm Forrester’s proprietary CX Index of customer experience, communication leaders post scores up to 19 points higher (out of 100).
High-scoring brands, Forrester goes on to say, are more successful across the board.
“Customer experience leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards, drive higher brand preference, and can charge more for their products.”
The need for clear customer communication is clear. So what can you do today to begin improving how you communicate?
1. Align internally on messaging
When a new inSided customer is preparing to activate their community, we ensure all relevant stakeholders sit down to agree on high-level business goals. From this conversation, teams then develop KPIs that relate to the goals they lay out.
This alignment is fundamental to our community success approach for one simple reason: if people aren’t very clear about what they want their community to accomplish, they’ll have no idea whether (or when) they’re any closer to success.
(There’s a case to be made for clarity of purpose in one’s own life, as well. Having goals aligned to one’s values leads to higher rates of goal attainment, science says.)
Another way of thinking about this: Before you can communicate to customers why they should buy from you (or keep buying from you), you have to identify your USPs in the first place. This requires a high level of internal collaboration and cooperation.
Just as an inSided community kickoff meeting will typically involve representatives from a brand’s marketing, service, product, and IT teams, so too do your communication-setting processes need to be inclusive.
Messaging and positioning are often the provenance of marketing, but getting input from other stakeholders provides a more holistic view of your organization’s values. It’s especially useful to bring in those who are close to customers and can identify what they (your customers) believe to be important.
Plus, having these kinds of conversations can spark further collaboration between teams. Simply establishing a regular cadence of cross-departmental discussion will set you on a path to better internal AND external communication.
2. Actively engage people on your owned platforms
Digital commerce is highly impersonal — one reason why e-commerce conversions average 2%, against a brick-and-mortar average of 40%. Starting conversations is a time-tested means of boosting online engagement, making digital channels more personal.
In the social media world, for example, posting a question invites your followers to engage with you. As marketing agency Single Grain suggests in this blog post, one great question is “What’s your single biggest challenge around [X]?” — a question that both invites reflection and helps you understand how you can serve your customers more effectively.
Generating conversations on platforms you own is even more valuable than using third-party sites like social networks. You gain major SEO benefits from hosting conversations behind your own domain: On inSided communities, between 60% and 80% of traffic comes from organic search.
Hosting conversations on owned platforms, in other words, brings a significant amount of search traffic to your domain, at which point you can leverage interactive plug-ins and calls to action to add visitors to your marketing funnel.
Conversational content really gains value when you can integrate it across your website — in FAQs or on product pages, for example. Conversations are like Q&A on steroids, providing users with expert knowledge and opportunities for interactivity. When you can extract and repurpose conversations in ecommerce, shoppers get more transparency and gain confidence.
3. Invite feedback and authentic input
Yet clear communication isn’t just about getting prospects in the door. Communication can also aid retention and upsell, while providing you with new insight into what you’re doing well and where you can improve.
Your challenge, in other words, is to not only help your current customers understand how you add value to their lives but listen to what THEY have to say.
Most of us take for granted how important listening is to interpersonal communication, including in the corporate world. The widely used NPS satisfaction metric, for example, asks just a single question (“Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?”).
Surveys are a powerful tool for listening, but their design — a set of questions designed by the survey creator — invites bias. Focus groups are similarly limited, not to mention time-consuming and expensive.
For truly effective listening, you need a platform and processes that invite customers to share whatever is on their minds. Only by opening the floor to person-to-person interaction will you receive authentic feedback — the kind that surveys fail to capture.
A great example of this can be found on the community of Eir, an Irish telco. In the spirit of honest conversation, the customer shares a less-than-ideal experience s/he had. The moderator, meanwhile, responds within a day and invites the person to share more details.
What shines through in this case is the authenticity of the exchange. Other Eir customers (or prospects) who see the conversation know that their grievances will get a fast reply. That boosts confidence in the quality of Eir’s support.
Should you be concerned about a deluge of negative posts if you open the floor to feedback? No. As software company Trustpilot points out in this blog post, more than 80% of online reviews are positive. We see similar results in inSided communities: positive sentiment greatly outweighs negative sentiment.