We always want to listen to customers … but sometimes we also want customers to listen to us. That’s not as easy as it sounds.
There can be any number of hurdles to even getting a message ready to send (content, appearance, approvals, delivery options, etc.) But the real trick is then getting the customer to pay attention to the message. It is interesting to note these scores from B2B customer surveys since 2000:
Yes, communication is 10+ points lower than the other scores. Customers consistently give lower scores for the way that their partners/suppliers communicate with them compared to other areas of the relationship such as the products, services and account team.
So what are the lessons?
- Customers don’t notice messages. So communicate often and use a variety of approaches.
- Customers can be annoyed by messages – there are too many/not enough, they are too flashy/not flashy enough, they are useful/wasteful … you get the picture. Spend time planning/testing so your messages will be on target with your audience.
- Develop a consistent ongoing communication approach with customers so they are more alert to your messages and more likely to pay attention. Focus on a long-term dialog, not just a one-time dazzle.
- Communication is often an after-thought and does not receive the kind of resources given to our product and service offerings. Make sure that communication is an integral part of your customer engagement process, and make the most of the puny budget.
How are customers going to know about the great things going on at our companies or the exciting plans in place due to their survey feedback if we don’t tell them? Let’s accept the challenge to find better/smarter ways to reach our customers.
Chris Sego, Vice President