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The No-Fail Formula for Effective Customer Communication

Kate Thomson, Head of Marketing, explores how you can prepare for effective customer communication, from back-end CRM basics to sales playbooks, to automation.

I’ve worked in marketing and customer communications since 2006. In that time, what I’ve learned is that the technology and processes you use can make or break your communication efforts with customers.

Particularly now, when communication with customers has skyrocketed, you need to find ways of making sure you’re contacting the right people, at the right time, with the right message. It is no secret that many businesses are struggling with tighter resources, so I’ll also share how we’re using automation to work smarter.

In this article I will cover some of what I’ve learned with trial and error over time, so you don’t have to. Read on to learn more about the steps to set up timely, effective customer engagement, including:

  • What can make or break your efforts at communication
  • How to work smarter with tighter resources, plus examples
  • How to protect your reputation and relationships
  • Why collaboration is crucial between Sales and Marketing
  • What results you should expect to achieve

Spring Clean Your Data

In my experience, your customer relationship management (CRM) data is crucial. I can’t stress that enough. The data in your CRM system can make or break your efforts at communication.

Having organised, detailed CRM data enables you to communicate more effectively, achieve more targeted marketing, and offer relevant and helpful services to the customers who want it most.

What you don’t want for your data is for it to be:

  • Out-of-date
  • Vague or undetailed
  • Stored/duplicated anywhere other than in CRM

What you do want for your data is for it to be:

  • Stored in CRM as your one centralised location for all data
  • Accurate, reliable, up to date
  • Detailed and packed with relevant info
  • Contain a full 360 degree view of customers
  • Fit for interrogation and analysis
  • GDPR compliant

At Perfect Image, all of our teams use Microsoft Dynamics 365. Whether we work in sales, marketing, solution architecture, support – the information we need is visible and connected in Dynamics 365, whether input into the system directly or pulled in from another source. That makes my job easier to find the best way of marketing to our customers, because when I look at their contact records, I can see everything we know about them, all in one place. I can see what we’ve already sold them, what department our contact works in, what industry they’re in, what interactions we’ve had with them, and much more.

For example, if a customer has a support ticket logged because a system isn’t working, when I see that on their contact record, I can choose not to send communications to them until a more appropriate time.

It is important that we, as marketers, are providing relevant and useful information to our customers.

Automate, Automate, Automate

Currently your resources might be tighter than ever. Smaller budgets and teams mean you need to find ways of working smarter and doing more with less.

Take a second to think about the processes you have in place within your department when dealing with customers.

Okay, now count how many of those are automated.

Whatever your result, I can tell you that the higher that number is, the better your team can perform.

Setting up automated workflows takes a good chunk of time. For the marketing team, this requires drafting and building email templates, gathering images, videos and statistics, drafting and building a workflow, setting up variables and marketing lists and notifications, testing the workflow, and much more.

However, when we’ve done this, it means we can have 5-6 weeks’ worth of meaningful communication with a customer, without lifting a finger. It gives us the time we need to get on with other value-add tasks.

Our marketing team has automated workflows for form fills, eBook downloads, lead tagging, and lots more. This serves us well particularly now but will continue delivering value in the future.

Collaboration Between Sales & Marketing is Key

You’ve automated the processes that you can for communicating with prospects and customers. At a certain point in the sales journey, of course you’ll want to get your sales team involved.

I know from experience how it can be quite painful when the sales and marketing teams don’t work well together. That’s why at Perfect Image we ensure collaboration between Sales and Marketing and work together as much as possible. This works in two ways…

Particularly during this time, your Sales team can be helpful to Marketing. Sales are speaking directly with customers. They have the knowledge about what customers are interested in, what they’re asking about, and what they want.

On the flip side of that, Marketing can be very useful to Sales. Marketing can help to create newsletters, e-shots, and public-facing communications via your website, blog and social media. They can provide general insight into popular content, or more specific feedback into which customers have been visiting/downloading/engaging with your communications. Sales can use this vital info to sell to the right people, at the right time.

How We Do It

At Perfect Image, the Marketing team have been working to build “Sales Playbooks” on various topics, packed with content, social assets and copy, relevant resources, and much more. Sales can use these playbooks when creating their own communications or when speaking to customers.

The automation I talked about earlier is also helping Sales. When someone downloads one of our eBooks, they are taken on an orchestrated customer journey via emails to guide them towards speaking with us about their IT issues.

A quote that is often (ironically) repeated between sales and marketing is, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” It sounds naff, but it’s true.

What To Expect & How To Plan For The Future

I would say don’t expect customer engagement to result in fast and easy sales. That’s not what this is about. It also helps when everyone on the team knows that, too. Like I said, this is a long term strategy and should feature as part of the wider customer satisfaction goals of the business.

This is about building trust, loyalty, and brand awareness.

Now is not the time to get blinded by fear. Now is the time to have more foresight, to look into the future at what your customers will want, and how your offerings can adapt to the current climate and everchanging demand.

Key Takeaways

To wrap up, here are my key considerations for building successful customer engagement:

  • Accurate CRM data enables you to communicate at the right time, to the right people.
  • Take the time to set up workflows and automate as many processes as possible.
  • How can you help other teams, and how can they help you?
  • Your goal should be to build trust, loyalty, and brand awareness – not fast and easy sales.
  • Think long-term: how can you adapt to everchanging demand?
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