Communicate with Me Now! Three Powerful Tips for Effective CX Communication

Are you ready to give customers what they want from you? This is the second installment of our four-part series that focuses on this question. Throughout the series, we will explore the importance of the following topics:

  1. Make CX Easy:  Is it easy to do business with your company?
  2. Effective CX Communication: Are you talking to your customers?
  3. Consistent CX: Do your customers know what to expect? (Coming in May)
  4. CX and Price:  When does price really become a differentiator? (Coming in June)

Does Communication Really Matter that Much in CX? 

The short answer is yes! Let’s look at how much. 

Our research found that when a customer mentions Communication as something that went well during the service, NPS® for those customers saying this goes up by six points. The flip-side of the response is more telling. When customers mention Communication as something that could be better, the NPS® for these customers takes a 40+ negative point hit compared to the larger group. Enough said about the impact of Communication on CX! 

Effective Communication is Hard—Let’s Simplify  

When customers contact a provider, they are generally looking for one or more of three things: 

  • Stuff – product, new or used, part, rental, etc.   
  • Information – invoices, product information, MSDS, etc. 
  • Person – serviceperson (fix something), salesperson 

This acronym is helpful to get people to think about what a customer may want.

Setting Communication Expectations—Begin from the Beginning 

Whether it is stuff, information, or a person, when that first contact is made (the medium can be phone, text, email, etc.), expectations are set for some response type. If you do not explicitly set them, customers will set them. For example, if I go to a website and complete an information request form, I expect to receive a reply quickly, even if no apparent commitment is made on the site. If I call my favorite plumber, I expect a response within a reasonable period. What is reasonable in this case is generally set by my previous experience.  

Effective CX Communication: Tip 1; set clear expectations from the beginning of the customer's journey.First Tip: Set clear expectations from the beginning of the customer’s journey. If you don’t, the customer will, which ultimately leads to problems.

If you do not set explicit response expectations with your customers, they will set them.  For example, if you order a part for your equipment from a provider, and the company fails to let you know when to expect it, you define your own timeline. If a simple part requires more than a week to arrive, you get frustrated. Why? Your experiences with other providers didn’t take as long!  Think Amazon!

But Things Happen! 

Things do happen during a customer journey that impact original expectations. The service technician was delayed on an earlier repair and is not able to meet the promised appointment. The needed part is back-ordered. The invoice was late getting sent. In these situations, it is essential to reset expectations.   

Too often, when a provider finds out the technician can’t make it as promised or the part is late, the temptation is to not communicate with the customer. The rationale is, “why get the customer upset now.”  Keep in mind that the part, the technician, or the product may be instrumental to the customers’ ability to do their jobs. Failure to receive a part or a service may interrupt their business operations to one degree or another. The customer needs to know the status of their SIP to run their businesses better. 

My experience shows that customers may not like to find out that something is delayed, but they would prefer to find out about it sooner than later. If the customer is counting on rental equipment arriving at a particular date and time, and it doesn’t, aside from the problems it creates for the customer, you have likely made a much angrier and less-loyal customer! 

Effective CX Communication: Tip 2; Be willing to reset expectations as you move through the journey with the customer.Second Tip: Be willing to reset expectations as you move through the journey with the customer. The sooner you reset expectations, the better. Customers may not like the news but will ultimately appreciate the sincerity and honesty. 

Doing Communication Well 

As the NPS impacts highlighted earlier show, doing Communication well improves customer experience. Conversely, when you fail on this element, the negative impacts are significant. I have highlighted a simple, straightforward approach that will help to improve communication in your organization. There is one additional tip to include. 

Effective CX Communication: Tip 3, Always follow up to make sure the customer's expectations are met.Third Tip: Always follow up to make sure the customer’s expectations are met. How you do it is less important than doing it. Closing the loop is critical. 

Assuming that everything is okay with a service experience is not a great strategy. I have found that customers will “put up” with some shortcomings, only to have the shortcomings accumulate over time until there are more serious problems. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may find out what else the customer might need! 

Communication does matter to customers. Here’s an unsolicited comments from one of our client’s customers.

“Communication, parts availability, delivery. It all seems to be improved. We’re really thankful for that. I know some people have put some effort into improving our experience, parts availability, and things like that. That I appreciate. It’s going really well.” 

As you can see, effective CX communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity for your customers. The effectiveness of your CX Communication will be reflected in your NPS®.  When a customer mentions Communication went well during the service, NPS® for those customers saying this goes up by six points.  When customers mention Communication could be better, the NPS® for these customers takes a 40+ negative point hit compared to the larger group.

Again, this is the second blog of a four-part series, Give Your Customers What They Want. Read the first installment, Make CX Easy. In May we will discuss the importance of providing consistent CX to your customers and making sure your customers know what to expect from you.

Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter Score℠ and Net Promoter System℠ are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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