It’s 2020. Which is just another way of saying that things will never be the same again—especially when it comes to how we communicate. While the era of paper mail and voicemail was already on its way out, challenges such as social distancing and a shift to online shopping have forced businesses to become digitally savvy almost overnight.
Many now rely on modern mediums such as messaging to communicate as their new MO. This turn to mobile convenience and functionality is no surprise, especially considering the fact that Americans check their phones a staggering 96 times a day—once every ten minutes (1). So what communication channels should you be using to connect with your customers nowadays? Answer: ones that can be accomplished through messaging. Text, social media, live chat, and reviews.
Texting is the most used communication channel among Americans younger than 50 (2). Why? Texting moves with you, never catches you off-guard, doesn’t interrupt your daily flow (like a phone call might), and gives you a window of time to think before you respond. It’s the first way people connect with family and friends; and now it’s the first way for you to connect with your people. No more phone tag, unopened mail, or chaining an employee to a desk. Texting is the fastest way to get business done; and the most accurate way as well.
Texting is also appealing because it is personal and convenient, prioritizing the needs of the customer and maintaining relationships of trust. For example, you can text your high-demand customers with specific promos and reminders, (and even attach a short message of hope and positivity), and they can ask you questions and get info on the go. You might think texting individual people too much of a hassle—but with the right platform, messages can be automated to be sent at the right time for your customer and for you.
How do we account for the rest of the 5.4 hours of screen time that the average American spends on her phone (3)? Social media. There are approximately 2.7 billion people on social media today (4). That’s over a third of the world’s population.
Many customers prefer to reach businesses through channels such as Facebook Messenger because they are more convenient and “live” than other modes of communication and customers are already “on-site” to talk. Social media messaging facilitates easy, straightforward contact that people can carry on as they are scrolling through their feeds. Social media is also a particularly effective communication channel because it reaches the broad spectrum of people you might not otherwise reach while simultaneously catering to your niche, specified groups. Those who follow your brand are able to develop a relationship with you through your online presence while others are able to see what makes you so unique.
Live chat is an up-and-coming communication feature that approximately 41% of customers expect to see when they land on your website (5). The idea is still one of instant messaging—but through a small icon on your landing page and typically centers around customer questions regarding your website info or products. It’s a simple concept with powerful results. A recent survey reported that live chat leads to a 48% increase in revenue per chat hour and a 40% increase in conversion rate (6).
By implementing live chat, the communication gap between you and your online customer is bridged. If a customer has to pick up a phone to call and ask about a product, she might go to a different site that’s easier to connect with. But if you have a live chat feature like Podium Webchat (which even allows you to transition conversations to mobile interfaces mid-convo), she is able to contact you easily, conveniently, and live with her questions, and through any device.
The last channel you should be using is a less obvious one—reviews. Generating and responding to reviews is an essential communication medium nowadays. Review threads are one of the first things people see when researching your business, and they communicate instantly whether your company is quality, responsible, and responsive. Reviews reach everyone who looks up your business on google before engaging with you, which is 97% of people in the US (7).
Reviews are a two-way street that people really give attention to. In fact, 89% of users read business’s responses to reviews (8). It pays to respond to reviews as quickly as you can (best practice is within 2 hours—24 max), commenting on positive reviews with an enthusiastic “thank you” and negative reviews with a sincere apology and pledge to fix the issue. Review threads are really the first communication channel your business has to reach potential leads online and show past customers that you care.
With so many different channels to keep up with, you may be wondering how you can keep up with everything at once. But by being able to manage all of these communication channels from the same place, it’s not only possible—it’s easy. With Podium’s messaging platform, you can conveniently manage and respond to every message across multiple channels, all from one inbox.
The world has gone mobile—and your choice of communication channels should reflect this. Whatever you choose to implement, make sure that it can be accessed from the place with the highest traffic; the screen of your customer’s phone.