Why speaking to your customers, not at them, works.

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Published on: July 30, 2021
Written by: Matthew Anderson

Want better relationships with your customers? The solution to an improved communication strategy is easier than you might think: Just be human.

Customers don’t need to hear your message as much as they need to feel it. Instead of talking at customers, companies need to learn to talk with or to them. Here’s how to improve your corporate communications in a way that brings you alongside your customers:

Be a problem-solver.

Why do people read your blog or follow you on Twitter? Largely because they want to have their problems solved.

First, listen to what customers are telling you about their problems. Then, when you talk with them, show them how you can help.

One of the best ways to listen to customers is to talk with the receptionists at your company or the people who run your social media accounts. What complaints do they hear when they pick up the phone, answer emails or browse LinkedIn? Those complaints hint at what is important to your customers. Find ways to meet those needs.

Customers buy products and services that meet their needs. When they do so, they’re also buying the feeling that comes with having their problems solved. And remember that you don’t need to dazzle or delight customers with over-the-top customer service — just deliver on your promises, and do it well.

Be honest.

Why is it so hard for us to relate to the people or companies on Instagram who seem to have it all together? Because their persona is perfect, and we are … not. Nobody is perfect, and it can be difficult to identify with companies that never own up to mistakes or admit to having difficult days.

To relate well with your customers, be honest about who you are while inspiring them with success. As part of your social media management, share stories of your mistakes and how you’ve grown from them. Share stories of difficult circumstances you were able to overcome. Share stories of the times you’ve reached out to others in the community for help, and how that went. Here’s an example of how we opened up about the challenges of running a small business.

Show, don’t tell.

You know those people who put “data guru” or “barbecue king” or “guitar expert” in their bios? Claiming to be a guru is easy, but you build trust when you back up what you say. I tell my kids all the time (and, to be honest, they could tell me this, too): It’s easy to say you’re sorry, but nobody will believe you until you show it.As a company, it’s OK to claim expertise at something, but to really reach your customers, you need to provide value.

For example: According to HubSpot research, just 12% of customers believe a business when it says “we put the customer first.” Why? Because those companies aren’t actually listening. Whatever your company mission is, you need to take practical steps to carry it out. Consider spending several months actually doing good in line with your mission before you tell customers about it.

Share your ‘why.’

How did you get into your line of work? Why does it matter to you? People relate well to companies that have a personal story that resonates. Simon Sinek describes the “why” as the “purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us.” Customers want to believe in the companies they do business with. Sharing the passion that drives you as a company can help you relate better with your customers.

Spouting marketing messages is just talking at your customers. But to talk to them, you need to listen to their needs, be honest about who you are, and share how you can meet their needs.

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