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There are more channels through which organisations can directly communicate with customers than ever before. This provides a wealth of opportunities to make meaningful connections with customers to build relationships and drive deeper loyalty.

However, the risks of getting it wrong are also greater than ever. Every piece of communication reflects and represents your business, so it is critical to ensure they reflect the company’s purpose, hit the right message at the right time, and are sensitive to consumer needs and circumstances.

This is even more important against the challenging and changeable external environment we live in, where one misplaced communication can cause significant reputational damage. Our latest UKCSI highlights the importance of reassurance, acknowledging any issues, giving a clear timeframe, which is then followed through in an engaging way. Those who manage this successfully will find it easier to gain customers’ trust.

A good example is insurance companies proactively signposting a coming storm. Well-timed communications reminding customers to tie down furniture, advising them of the best times to call for assistance and explaining the extra resources being allocated to manage an increase in enquiries provides reassurance and manages customer expectations.

On the other hand, we have seen customer and media backlash from energy companies suggesting customers put on an extra jumper or dance around in their living rooms to keep warm. Whilst the positive intentions were there, such advice can seem frivolous or condescending – risking the ire of customers who are dealing with very real challenges.

Organisations need empathetic, timely communications consistent with their brand values and tone of voice – that show understanding of the issues their customers are facing. April Fools is a good example of this – if it fits your brand tone, there may be opportunities here, but there are many instances where an attempt at humour is inappropriate.

And let’s not forget the importance of communicating effectively with internal customers, employees and stakeholders. Good organisations draw from many perspectives but speak with one voice. This helps ensure messaging remains consistent across channels. The key here is to balance corporate goals with the need to provide human empathy and genuine understanding.

When we are under more pressure, things can be rushed or missed. But if an organisation is under pressure, its customers likely are too, creating an environment in which slip ups or inconsistencies are more likely to cause frustration. In these volatile and uncertain times, communications matter the most, and organisations must work harder at managing the customer journey through unprecedented change – managing expectations and avoiding blaming external factors such as staff shortages and Covid when these are not met. This is where it is essential to establish a culture of meaningful dialogue and transparency – personalising your communications across channels and knowing what is critical to the customer.

The last few years have been some of the most challenging in our history, and organisations have had to communicate consistently through what feels like crisis after crisis. Whether it’s dealing with the impact of Covid, the conflict in Ukraine or the worrying energy crisis, it’s important to remember that your organisational response and subsequent communications are all interconnected.

Communications should build on one another and align with previous statements ensuring consistency in messaging. They should be authentic, consistent, and genuine. We have become wary and weary of platitudes from organisations, opening an opportunity for those who get it right to be a considered voice of reassurance. Organisations should, though, be aware of unintended consequences and open ongoing dialogue with customers, not simply broadcasting the corporate line out into the ether.

If you don’t know your audience, cutting through to them will be difficult. Smart AI can help in this situation, using your data correctly and appropriately to gain a better picture of your end customer and any purchasing influencers to tailor communications.

The customer journey can be long and complex, but we should consider who are we trying to reach, why are we trying to reach them, and what are we trying to say. And do our messages fit with the brand, its positioning and our internal colleague communications.

Jo joined The Institute as its CEO in 2009. She has driven membership growth by 150 percent and established the UK Customer Satisfaction Index as the country’s premier indicator of consumer satisfaction, providing organisations with an indicator of the return on their service strategy investment.

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