Rethinking the Way We Communicate
Has the pandemic inspired you to explore new ways to engage with customers, co-workers and clients? It probably has you taking a hard look at your strategies, policies and procedures to safely and effectively work with those inside and outside your organization. Using texts, webcasts and social media helps businesses and enables individuals to stay in touch, answer customers' questions, communicate business status, build trust and demonstrate team value.
You may be finding that it takes an expanded set of skills to work virtually. Sending texts before and after Skype, Zoom or FaceTime calls will help structure your meetings. With an agenda, your attendees will have an outline to help stay on topic while also dealing with the inevitable distractions that come with a home office.
When you Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, you may think it's possible to multitask, but you can be perceived as rude and distracting unless you've made it clear at the beginning that you'll be texting during the call. Texting is a fast, relatively low-cost way to connect with customers, employees, vendors and carriers. In pandemic times, it's essential, along with email and phone calls. There are tools that allow answering and sending company calls from personal phones without giving away personal numbers.
Virtual communication methods simplify interactions with customers and create brand loyalty, because clients can see your message on their mobile devices. Don't leave any room for misinterpretation of your messages. Don't try jokes or irony unless you know the reader will understand the context and meaning clearly. Otherwise, it can lead to confusion. Maintain a professional format in your messages. But there are times when throwing in a smiley emoticon can ensure your reply isn't misconstrued as snippy.
Texting gets customers involved in such interactive activities as surveys, games and contests. You can send instant product updates and alerts, newsfeeds and blogs. Employees can use messaging to broadcast alerts: a toxic spill occurred in a plant, technology systems are down, a last-minute meeting needs to happen or a supervisor/co-worker needs instant updates on a remote project.
Frequent but brief responses on social media and mobile devices can offer fast information. For example, pricing changes can happen rapid-fire, as can updating alerts and notifying vendors and carriers of delays in buying and shipping merchandise.
People carry their cellphones at all times, so you have a greater chance of reaching them through texts. Web chats allow your team to answer questions, schedule appointments and sell products or services in one-on-one conversations. It's a great personal touch to add to your e-store.
Your social media channels let your team respond using direct messages and posts, keeping up with concerns. Providing truly two-way communications means that your customers can write back to you, replying directly as you collect responses, read confirmations and determine your program's effectiveness.
In-person meetings and old-school technologies like phone calls are not going away. But going forward, we are going to need to be more flexible in how we communicate.