two people sitting on pier at night in middle of conversation
PHOTO: Korney Violin

Did you ever read the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes? The protagonist of the story strutted around believing he was wearing the finest garments in all the world. The truth, as you’ll likely remember, was he was stark naked. The public front he believed he was presenting differed wildly from the public perception of his appearance.

Many companies today are in much the same situation. They believe they provide their customers with “super experiences” that help vault the public perception of their company far ahead of their competitors. But they’re wrong. And, just as with the deluded emperor of old, the naked truth is rather ugly: the fact is the experiences provided by many companies fall far short of customers’ expectations. At a time when the vast majority of companies compete primarily on customer experience, Salesforce reports that the majority of consumers feel most companies are falling woefully short in delivering a great experience.

Communication Is Key to Great CX

A ‘super experience’ is one that demonstrates a company cares about customers and seeks to serve their wants and needs. But, perhaps more important, a super customer experience conveys the message that the company appreciates and values its customers. 

How can companies best convey that message of appreciation? Through communication. Communication is the foundation upon which a super customer experience is built.

And while it’s true communication is a two-way street, it’s also a very broad avenue. Many vehicles of communication are well-suited for traveling along that avenue. Though lots of companies are stuck in the rut of thinking surveys are the only way to gain customer feedback, modern technology has gifted us with many options for communication with clients, including chatbots, newsletters, and an array of methods for follow-up communications, including options such as in-app feedback.

Related Article: Voice of the Customer Strategies: Effectively Turning Feedback Into Action

4 Best Practices for Communicating With Your Customers

No matter the vehicle of communication chosen, CX professionals should know and use the following four best-practice strategies for maximizing the effectiveness of customer communications:

1. Incorporate different types of messaging in your communication strategies

An audience may tune out your messages if they are delivered too frequently across the same channel. Each customer communication and notification device should be designed around three factors:

  • The type of content being sent.
  • The priority of the message.
  • The volume of messaging.

Remember that high-volume messaging should typically employ low-priority forms of notification (i.e. within the app or newsfeed). Failure to do otherwise will eventually wear out your customers, and train them to ignore most or all of your messaging.    

Related Article: Serving Customers on Their Terms: The Benefits of Messaging  

2. Deliver key messaging in chunks

You can help ensure users will receive and understand important communications if the messaging is easily consumable. Each channel may require a different message length: think about a text message versus an email newsletter. Regardless of the length of the message, drawing attention to important information is critical. And while providing only a single recommended option (among many available options) is a validated best practice for an omnichannel or digital strategy, remember only one call to action is needed. After all, if everything within your messaging stands out to the customer, then, in effect, nothing stands out.

3. Create value-driven personalized and relevant notifications

Each communication with your customers must deliver value. Fluff leads to failure. Each message must deliver value that justifies the time and attention you’re requesting from your customer. Adhering to this requirement, of course, is a best practice for every brand and every situation. But it’s a best practice that becomes magnified in importance when customers are connecting with your brand across multiple channels.

Ultimately, all communications should be relevant and personalized to ensure the interruption involved (and all messaging involves some degree of interruption of your customers’ lives) is justified from the customer viewpoint. 

Related Article: Which of the 3 Personalization Types Are You?

4. Understand your target audience

Develop a thorough and accurate understanding of your target audience, of their lifestyles and their needs. Because — though we may fantasize otherwise — our customers simply aren’t going to be thinking about our brands and products on a 24/7/365 basis. Given that reality, it’s crucial that customer communications be tailored to their lifestyles and preferences. And achieving this goal requires truly knowing and understanding your customers. The in-depth knowledge you gain about your customers is gold. Use it to match your communications to your customers’ lifestyles.

'What We’ve Got Here Is Failure to Communicate'

The movie "Cool Hand Luke" includes a famous line that's applicable to the modern theater of company-customer communication: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” As noted in the Salesforce report referenced above, the majority of consumers are quite aware of that failure. And most are actively on the lookout for companies that deliver a better customer experience.

So, for companies that continue to drop the ball with customer communications, a slight tweak to that old movie quote will be quite applicable: What we’ve got here is failure.