Communication in Isolation

Listen to article

Many businesses today are failing because of an obtuse take on communication

"Our customers like a personal service", "We like to deal with our customers face to face". Well, good luck with that. They'll be the only customers you'll ever have.

Though some customers will indeed prefer a face to face conversation, the majority will not. Moreover, your future customers will not know you exist.

The amount of available communication channels is growing steadily, and it's our prerogative to keep up, stay ahead, and push further. However, doing so is easier said than done, and far cheaper said than done, too. Picture a "normal" office, big or small, and you will usually see, on most desks, a large email machine called a computer and a telephone next to it. We expect most staff to be able to handle that, and email and phones are still vital communication tools. We can always add Facebook, one of the younger guys will be happy to keep it updated, and that should be enough. From here, if we go any further, the costs start to pile up. Perhaps we are paying for business versions or subscriptions, or special features, but most costs, from hereon, will be labour.

Most channels, despite the hype, are not an instant hit by any means. One has to earn a following in the digital world, just like we garnered a reputation in the black and white one. In no way is using social media to boost your profile and bring you more money an easy task. It takes effort and people-hours as well as relevant, well-thought-out, and creative posts, product showcases, and a long history of customer reviews.

And this usually is where we see the problem. It is not the instant success that we read about. So we head back to the comfort of what we know. It has always worked well for us, so why change it? Face to face is the most personal of channels, it's more profound, and it's warmer than an email sent to a million people. But aside from retail and some other specific services, how many of us can afford to have face to face conversations with every customer, worldwide? Compare a long trip to see a client that you know personally, a delicious lunch, and a genuinely lovely and mutually beneficial rapport, with a fantastic and relevant tweet that reached millions and goes viral, spreading your name as it does. The long trip obviously costs more, but it is a valued client, a loyal client, and let's say, for example's sake, a generous client. The return value of your trip could indeed be very high, and in the end, most likely worth it. But, that tweet's return value has infinite potential. It could connect you with a new client, or even a new demographic. And yet it's only one tweet. With the right structure in place and the right people on your team, your message can be spread instantly, and as often as you like, to more people than you could imagine.

Time is running very low for those still not convinced. Generation Z is here, in 2020, they represent almost half of all consumer spending, and they spend an average of six hours a day online. That's more than they sleep.

According to Forbes, 42% per cent of Gen Z respondents in a recent study said they would participate in an online game for a campaign, and forty-three per cent would write a product review. Almost half of them research items on mobile devices while shopping at brick-and-mortar locations. If your product or service doesn't have an online presence, if no one has left a review, generation Z will not even see it on the shelf in front of them.

Quite often we deal with enquiries along the lines of "we don't know which channel is best for us", the answer is always the same - all of them. Our message, our values and our brand must be present and consistent everywhere. It is interactions whenever, wherever, and however the customer wants.

With Covid-19 demanding that our state of self-isolation be extended, we need to make sure that we stand out even if we are focusing our attention online, so let's look at some ways we can do that.

We can start by being more active on social media, brand values do not have to stop, and connection with customers doesn't either. Sending personalized videos to customers can be a great way to make this more personal and make people feel more valued at a critical time. It takes less time than a phone call, and the impact will be the modern version of receiving a card wishing you well. Videos are massive, 85% of businesses use videos as a marketing tool, and 83% of video marketers say video has helped them generate leads. So use right now to make your videos personal and real.

Host events from home, John Legend did it, and everyone who saw his living room concert felt like he was in their living room. It was powerful and personal. It is a memory that will stick, a beautiful moment. We don't have to be John Legend to do it either, many teams around the world are still hosting morning meetings, so why not send a gift of a branded breakfast that they can enjoy while doing so? It doesn't have to be breakfast, a sweet jar with your name on it "I love these new -your name here- sweets, what's your favourite?". People need -we need- distractions and pleasant surprises right now. We are bored.

Create a podcast, stream a product demonstration or the talents of your team, encourage togetherness and offer people respite as much as you can. We need to be a presence in our customer's lives, a positive influence, and right now, we need to get online in every possible way to do that.

It is overwhelming, and we understand that. If you would like to hear more about how you can improve by increasing communication channels, please get in touch with us in any way you feel most comfortable, from wherever you feel most comfortable, and at whatever time is most convenient.

Take care, and please stay safe.

By Jenny Stanley, Founder and MD, Appetite Creative Solutions