Everyone has their own communication style – how they prefer to talk with people, and how they prefer people connect with them. This creates a problem however, when two people don’t have the same communication preferences. Chances are, you already have this issue with some of your clients or suppliers.
Have you ever had this happen to you: you email a customer or supplier asking them for information, and they phone you back. This is because while your preferred communication method is email, they would prefer to talk to you over the phone.
Why do we have different communication preferences?
Some people prefer email because it provides them an opportunity to think things through, write out a response, and then edit it before sending the communication.
Others prefer the phone because they find their thoughts flow easier when they’re talking and they prefer to hear the voice inflections when talking to people.
Written communication can also be scary for some people. Perhaps they don’t spell well, or are not as familiar with the internet and find it slow and painful to use.
Unfortunately this disconnect in communication styles can lead to lost business. Whereas tailoring your communication to each customer will actually help win them over. Think about that customer experience. What can you do to keep them engaged?
In the embroidery business, you’re working with people who want to ensure their product comes out the way they expect. They’re making a custom order, not just buying something off the shelf. And for many teams, schools, businesses, this custom order is a significant dent in their budget – they can’t afford to have it go wrong. Therefore communication surrounding styles, colors, size, design is vitally important to them.
Another thing to consider when it comes to communication is that chances are the majority of your business is local. So making personal connections with customers is huge. Getting out, meeting people in person, then following up with a phone call, and lastly an email. The greater the personal connection you have with a customer, the more likely they’re going to order from you. The more you use their preferred communication method, the more likely they’re going to order from you?
So what is your customer’s preferred method of communication?
You should have a data based with all your customer information. This helps you tailor the customer experience and determine a customer’s lifetime value. Part of that data should contain a field noting how your customer prefers to communicate with you. Knowing how and when to communicate with your customers will improve your relationship with them. Perhaps one of your clients prefers to be phoned, but never answers after 3pm. Or they communicated to you that every last Friday of the month they take the day off.
All that being said, you may need to create some rules and guidelines of your own surrounding communication. Perhaps you have a customer that prefers to come into the shop in person to discuss their order. Either find out a time frame of when they’ll stop by, or communicate to them the best day/time to come in, as to not interrupt your workflow.
Another thing to consider is how you handle quotes. We never recommend giving a customer a quote over the phone. It leaves too much room for miscommunication and error. If a client does ask you for a quote over the phone, and you’re confident with your numbers you can give them the details, over the phone, but also let them know that you’ll email them the full quote to ensure that everything is correct, and the understand the cost breakdown. Then ask them to respond directly to the email, or that you can call them back to go over anything they have questions on.
You’re working within your preferred communication style – email – to ensure everything goes smoothly, but working with the customer’s preferred style – phone – to provide them with quality customer service.
In any communication method you’re not going to hit 100% of your customers. That’s why businesses today must consider more options, including the variety of social media outlets. Perhaps you create a blog post, then you send out an email newsletter to all your customers, but you also post the link on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.
The data base you created whether it be a spreadsheet, Q-cards or a CRM – Customer Relationship Management software, will help you reach more of your customers. Let’s say you’re running a really big promotion, and you want to reach out to all your customers. By having that information in the system you will know that there’s 40 customers you need to phone, 75 customers to email, and perhaps 3 that you need to go see in person.
Everyone has communication challenges. There is some client they’re not connecting with properly. In business you need to have a level of flexibility. While this can’t override your business policies – example all orders must be signed off in person – you want to work with your customers, and express to them why you have these policies, so that they can also work with you.
How can you communicate your preferences to clients to help them work with you?
Perhaps you don’t enjoy phone calls partly because the shop is so loud. Have your voicemail let customers know that you’re busy in the shop, but if they leave a message you’ll call them back at 3pm, or they can email for a faster response.
Or if you don’t like emails, turn on a notification that let’s customers know you reply to emails twice a day at X and X times.
Improving your communication with existing customers makes them more likely to enjoy doing business with you, making them repeat customers, and giving you referrals.