Clients want to feel in control. If they need information, they don’t want to go trawling through a website to find it. They want direct contact with their business partners and a swift and relevant response.
Yet too many companies today let their clients down when it comes to communication. Only 29 percent of B2B customers feel engaged with their partners. And a low engagement rate can have dramatic consequences, as disconnected customers are liable to take their business elsewhere.
While it might sound like notification hell, sharing information frequently with clients and empowering them to correspond with you at any time will keep them from feeling left in the dark.
Any company that values learning and teaching as much as doing needs a responsive, agile communications strategy to avoid wasting time and money. Sending notifications that “everything is fine” can be annoying for both clients and your staff. But in some situations, more frequent, personalized updates that offer real insights -- and the ability to respond -- will instill greater confidence in your company.
You can gauge your clients’ desired level of outreach according to their specific needs. Keeping them updated on their projects is easy when you use the right tools. Here are three scenarios in which circumstances dictate the type and frequency of client communication. You'll also see a few types of resources I use to ensure my own company hits the mark.
1. You're struck by disaster.
When disaster strikes or websites go down, clients need to know what you're doing to resolve the problem. Paying clients don't like to hear about your worst-case scenario. Whether a line of code took down your online platform or a customer-service response offended a core audience group, you must be immediately accessible to your client. It conveys reassurance and can help make this doomsday event a distant memory.
Slack is the heartbeat of our projects for a good reason: True emergencies should be dealt with immediately. When tricky situations can't be misinterpreted or ignored, we invite clients to continue the conversation by joining our Slack channels. This allows us to put out small fires on a regular basis and provide answers to their questions in real time.
Clients can Slack us as often as they’d like because all relevant data is always on offer. When a channel gets too noisy, we set up another room to filter relevant responses. Other companies are embracing this platform, too. Digital security startup Clef launched a Slack community to give engineers easy access to customers, and there are now 2.3 million daily active users across the Slack platform. As more companies adopt this technology, its's easy to predict that clients soon will demand the same level of responsiveness from all partners.
2. Your client wants to be updated at every stage of a project.
Share your progress with robust status updates. One of our clients never before had been involved in software development. Understandably, he wanted to know about every step we took. We sent him push notifications, code reports, and even log reports so he could better understand his project. It changed his whole view of how to work with a development team.
The process taught him how seemingly innocuous requests to change the code could wreak havoc on the testing timeline. He also appreciated how the knowledge he gained from his deep involvement helped him maximize the development cycle and raise a new round of capital for expansion.
Automated notifications are a must for companies trying to stay responsive. A growing number of businesses testing a product or seeking to increase adoption are catching on to the benefits of automated push notifications. With a read rate of up to 97 percent, push notifications provide in-depth information in just a few lines of text. And no one on your team has to do anything to send them.
Software provider Jobstream Group sends automated notifications via Zapier and Slack. We use existing integrations, too, but sometimes build our own. By integrating gamification, our system tells us which teammate committed the code and exactly when and how many lines were committed. An automatic score indicates how the code tested and how quickly it can be incorporated.
3. Your client demands attention in every situation.
Your client is telling you he or she wants to be part of the process, seeing changes as they’re implemented. Such detail-oriented clients want their hands in the guts of the operation. This requires instantaneous and responsive communication as well as email updates when you reach key milestones.
Email responders are essential feedback loops that work best for status updates. In addition to giving our clients a heads-up on progress and any information needed to continue, we ask simple questions. This approach not only ensures that clients read our message but also allows us to stay engaged and responsive to their needs.
We don’t send autoresponder messages every hour, on the hour. Each project has predetermined phases that merit emails detailing shifting personnel, our schedule, and what our clients should expect next. We also send daily and weekly status updates to maintain visibility. We've learned consistency is another key to maintaining relationships.
In today’s hyper-responsive business environment, providing high-quality service requires equally high-quality communication. Don't leave clients to cope with perceived problems on their own. Instead, give them a green light to participate in the process and check in as often as needed to make sure they feel satisfied, comfortable, and engaged with you and your company.