Guest post by Sabina Stoiciu.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” (George Bernard Shaw).
And this is the worst that can happen to your business when it comes to customers and communication – believing you have succeeded in communicating with your customer when in fact that communication failed or didn’t properly take place.
That is why your business needs effective tools which can enhance all communication processes. Whether we’re talking about internal communication between your employees or external communication between your business and your customers, specific online tools can streamline both types of interaction.
One thing to have in mind is that both types of communication are very important to your business. Managing to develop a constructive communication with your employees can make circulate clearer ideas, simplify the task resolving, collect better feedback from them and make their work process more fruitful. It’s almost redundant to mention benefits and crucial key-points of external communication with customers. Knowing what they want, what they expect from you, offering them adequate quality information on your business or your products and answering to their queries can definitely make or break every business.
While there’s a whole pool of online communication tools for both external and internal communication, we aim to highlight a few online tools which can benefit mainly your communication with customers, but also the one with your employees.
1. Social media management tools.
There’s no secret to anyone that social media has become and still evolves into being a powerful communication channel between individuals and businesses. Some say that you don’t even exist if you’re not present on social media. What’s important about social media is having a consistent posting policy and offering quality content. This might seem simple in theory, but managing several social media accounts at once (like a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a YouTube channel, a LinkedIn page, a Pinterest board, an Instagram account and others) can be very challenging. This is the reason for which social media management tools like the one from Hootsuite have appeared in the business landscape. They allow you to schedule posts, messages and tweets, manage several social networks at once, analyze traffic from social media and see brand mentions.
2. Online forms.
As a foreseeable consequence of going online, online forms are being used by more and more businesses to streamline different actions like customer contact, lead gathering, offering a freebie, feedback collection, newsletter subscription or event registration. Forms are a great way to do all of the above while having the possibility to brand them according to your business, to integrate them with your preferred 3rd party apps (such as Customer Relationship Management systems, emailing systems, Project Management systems and others) and to safely store submissions which can also generate helpful reports. Besides the well-known contact form, a good use of forms for business is through the online feedback survey like the one provided by 123ContactForm. Customer feedback surveys can point out your clients’ opinion and satisfaction towards your business or products, they can tell you what you need to improve and how your customer’s overall perception of your company is. Plus, you can publish them on various platforms like websites, blogs or social media and get results in real time.
3. Email marketing systems.
Remember all the nice looking holiday newsletters you got last Christmas from your favorite brands? Those newsletters are sent out using email marketing systems, because it would take a lot of time to send each of the thousands of emails manually. With a tool like MailChimp you can create, edit and manage targeted email campaigns, send newsletters, manage contacts and track results in a time-effective way and with low effort. Emailing systems can also be used to follow up on different leads, sent out special offers or make announcements to your customers, besides sending out newsletters.
4. Conferencing tools.
With the rise of the online medium, there is no wonder even personal meetings have turned into online meetings. Truth is meeting this way spares you a lot of time because you don’t have to drive to your client’s office or make them come visit you. Furthermore, it enables virtually meeting with customers from another corner of the world. Supposing you are based in the US, it’s much more likely to have a conference or a video call with your client from Australia then fly over to them. Considering this, Skype offers a great tool for making international voice and/or video calls, for organizing conference calls or just for setting up the first contact to your client. If you are wondering how a conference tool can help you with clients, let me tell you that it can make the difference to your customer: it can increase the (potential) client’s trust, convince them to adhere to your service, allow you to up-sell or cross-sell them a product and personalize the relationship to your customer.
5. File sharing tools.
Did it ever occur to you to have to send a nice presentation to a big customer whom you wanted to close a deal with? I guess so. But did it occur to you that the presentation was too big to fit into a mail message? Email clients have certain limitations on the file size you’re able to send through them, thus you can see yourself obliged to transfer the file(s) with another service. Dropbox is a good pick for this task – it lets you upload and share documents, photos, videos or other types of files. The files are stored in the cloud, so you don’t have to fear losing an important presentation meant for your customer, presentation which you have worked two weeks for.
This is just a selection of a few tools from the big online pool, which can help improve your business’ communication. The good thing about them is that each of them offers a free plan to use and some of them also offer upgrading options, if you feel like you need more features for your business. To draw a conclusion, there are hundreds of online apps waiting for you to discover them. The only hard time you might have is deciding which you like more for your business.
About the author
Sabina enjoys blogging, photography, traveling and finding ways of gathering and sharing relevant business knowledge.
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