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I wrote today’s post for RingCentral; it covers the power of communication in the customer experience and includes how AI can redefine your communication strategy for better customer engagement.

Communication is one of the most overlooked components of the customer experience. But it’s one of the most important components of any relationship, including a brand’s customer relationships! It forms the foundation of understanding between individuals. It enables you to address conflicts and misunderstandings. When it’s transparent and honest, it fosters trust and respect. And it plays a vital role in establishing emotional connections.

Communication comes down to what’s been said, what’s been heard, and what’s been understood. In other words, it’s about speaking, listening, hearing, understanding, and responding between two or more parties. It’s the cornerstone of healthy, fulfilling relationships. It enables individuals to connect, collaborate, and navigate challenges and opportunities together.

Why Is It Overlooked?

Why, then, is it overlooked so often when it comes to improving the customer experience (and the employee experience)? The following outlines several reasons and factors, as well as solutions for overcoming these reasons, including some that come from a platform I’ve written about before, RingCX. RingCentral is now simplifying customer experiences with their AI-first contact center solution.

1. Focus on Technology Over Human Interaction

Businesses often prioritize technological advancements and automation over human interaction. While technology can streamline processes, it may sometimes lead to a lack of genuine, meaningful communication with customers.

What can they do?

It’s important to know that technology is a tool that supports and facilitates the experience, but it is not the experience. The experience is very much human: feelings, emotions, and perceptions about interactions with a brand. They must implement a balance between technology-driven communication and human interaction, ensuring that automated processes still maintain a personal touch. And, employees must be trained to use technology as a tool to enhance, not replace, genuine communication with customers.

2. Silos Within Organizations

Often, departments operate in silos, each managing their own communication channels and strategies. This fragmentation results in inconsistencies in messaging and a disjointed customer experience.

What can they do?

Deliberately designing a customer-centric culture can turn this around. A customer-centric culture is collaborative; departments must work together toward a common goal in order for the experience to be delivered consistently across the organization. Implementing unified communication platforms that allow different departments to share customer information and insights seamlessly aids in breaking down or connecting these silos.

Integration between CRM systems and contact center platforms like RingCX breaks down silos by centralizing customer data and communication channels into a single interface. This allows different departments to access and update customer information seamlessly, promoting collaboration and consistency in communication.

3. Failure to Adapt to Changing Customer Preferences

Customer communication preferences are constantly evolving, with many customers preferring digital channels such as email, chat, and social media. Businesses that fail to take the time to identify and adapt to these preferences overlook opportunities to engage effectively with their customers.

What can they do?

It’s important that brands leverage analytics and ongoing customer feedback, interactions, and insights to identify and understand preferred communication channels in order to tailor strategies accordingly. They must also regularly assess and adapt communication channels and strategies based on evolving preferences.

An omnichannel contact center solution, coupled with CRM integrations enables businesses to communicate with customers through their preferred channels, whether it’s email, phone, chat, social media, or SMS. AI capabilities within RingCX analyze communication data to identify emerging trends and preferences, allowing businesses to adapt their strategies accordingly. It also affords them the opportunity to personalize the experience, making the customer feel heard and valued.

4. Underestimation of the Impact of Communication

Some businesses definitely underestimate the impact of communication on the overall customer experience. They focus more on product features or pricing, neglecting the critical role that effective communication plays in building trust, resolving issues, and fostering long-term relationships with customers.

What can they do?

Customer experience leaders must educate stakeholders within the organization about the critical role of communication in shaping the customer experience. Map the customer journey through various interactions with the business to highlight where those communications are happening or falling short. Incorporate communication effectiveness metrics into performance evaluations and key performance indicators (KPIs) to highlight their importance.

5. Lack of Training and Empowerment

Frontline employees who are responsible for customer communication may not always receive adequate training or empowerment to handle customer inquiries effectively. This can result in inconsistent or subpar communication experiences for customers, e.g., unresponsiveness, lack of follow-up, etc.

What can they do?

Be sure to provide comprehensive training for frontline employees on effective communication techniques, active listening, and conflict resolution. As a matter of fact, all employees should receive this type of training because if they aren’t directly interacting with customers, they are supporting someone who is – and communication is critical between cross-functional employees. And empower employees with the autonomy to make decisions and resolve customer issues promptly without constant supervision.

AI-powered features within RingCX provide frontline employees with real-time support and guidance during customer interactions. These tools can offer suggestions, answer questions, and automate routine tasks, empowering employees to deliver better communication experiences even with limited training.

Additionally, functionality in the new RingEX platform “empowers every employee across the organization – from customer service to sales and marketing – to boost teamwork and efficiency and contribute to the success of the business.” Supporting and simplifying internal communications and making them more efficient and effective improves both the employee experience and the customer experience.

6. Failure to Collect and Act on Customer Feedback

Brands that don’t actively collect and act on customer feedback may be unaware of communication-related issues that are negatively impacting the customer experience. Without feedback mechanisms in place, these issues can go unnoticed and unresolved.

What can they do?

Implement robust feedback mechanisms such as surveys, customer reviews, social media monitoring, and the voice of the customer through employees to gather insights on communication experiences and preferences. Then actively analyze and respond to customer feedback, addressing communication-related issues promptly and transparently.

Omnichannel CRM integrations capture and consolidate customer feedback from various channels, including surveys, social media, and direct interactions. AI analytics can analyze this feedback to identify communication-related issues and trends, enabling businesses to take proactive measures to address them. With RingCX, agents then have the right data at the right time to communicate effectively with customers.

In Closing

While communication is indeed a vital component of the customer experience, it is sometimes overlooked due to a variety of organizational and cultural factors. Brands must recognize the importance of effective communication and actively prioritize it as part of their customer experience strategy. Do the work. Identify the shortfalls. Make the changes needed to fix those. Incorporate technology, as needed.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. ~ George Bernard Shaw

ABOUT ANNETTE

Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2022, she published her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business [Advantage|ForbesBooks], which is available to purchase on Amazon, Books A Million!, Target, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other outlets around the world! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your EX and CX game.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.