Lost in translation: How technology helps you talk your customers' language
Strong communication is key to success in almost any field.
In business, particularly, it has a vital role to play in the building of trusted relationships that provide long-term value.
Technology has a vital role in enabling strong communications to happen, whether via the internet, mobile, video conferencing or any other chosen method.
In recent years, communication technologies have conveyed a variety of benefits to businesses, with the biggest advantages being in the area of cost and scale, allowing businesses of all sizes to compete on a level playing field.
They’ve also boosted businesses’ ability to react quickly, for example, by improving data sharing, making it possible to convey information in a matter of seconds rather than hours or days. Gone are the days of sending a contract, proposal or prospectus in the post and waiting a couple of days for the next contact. Instant communication has opened the door for businesses to complete deals more quickly and even target customers in different geographical locations, which may have been impossible before.
Not only has technology improved how businesses and their customers communicate, it’s also constantly developing new channels, from social media and webinars to webchat, all making collaboration faster and business processes more efficient.
The challenge for businesses is in identifying the channels that will have the biggest impact on customer experience, productivity and bottom line.
It’s important that businesses do take advantage of newer forms of communication as their traditional customer groups move on, to be replaced by the Millennial generation. This group, usually classed as those born between 1982 and 2004, has been brought up with the online world, making it no surprise that they generally prefer to communicate via technological means.
That’s not to say that there will be no place for ‘old school’ communication methods like phone, email, direct mail and print media, but as customer needs and habits change, it’s vital that businesses change and adapt to keep pace. In order to keep up, they’ll need to review all forms of communication available to them and assess the potential of each to deliver growth, customer loyalty or both.
The most successful businesses haven’t been slow to respond to changing consumer demands. For example, Optimum Research found that 57% of businesses use social media to support their marketing efforts, with the most common reasons being to improve brand awareness (27%) and boost sales (15%).
Insight into social media audience growth suggests that this channel’s relevance is set to continue. A study by TrackMaven found that by 2018 social media users will number 2.44 billion, or 33% of the world population.
Improved business performance
A 2016 report by KCOM, produced in association with the CCA Research Institute, explored the importance of digital technologies in supporting improved customer experience (3). The findings highlight the reasons why organisations can no longer afford to ignore the impact of digital transformation: 100% of respondents agreed that digital transformation isn’t an over-hyped trend, while 51% saw the digital transformation of their customer experience as necessary to compete or respond to changing customer demands.
In 2011, the Economist debated whether IBM’s success could be the result of its emphasis on “strong customer relationships rather than with its machines or software.” IBM has used good communication to build strong relationships based on trust, making its customers more informed during times of change and more understanding of issues that affect them.
The importance of effective communication can’t be overemphasised
Everything businesses do, internally and externally, involves communication.
And strong communication, supported by the most relevant technologies, will continue to contribute to improved service quality, increased efficiency and the development of innovative products that meet customer needs.