The Big Problem Brands Have Communicating With Customers

Technology is often highlighted as the savior for businesses, enabling them to be better connected with their customers and adapting to the new age of capitalism. But the truth is that it’s not an “if you add it, they will come” scenario. Companies touting that they’re using live chat, bots, new age support services, and modern tech to make them hip and cool aren’t getting it, and that’s doing a disservice to their customers.

There’s a disconnect between the realities businesses have versus their customers. In a survey released by Twilio (PDF) last month, 70% of businesses think they’ve done a good job of communicating, but only 20% of customers agree with that. Executives may try and paint a rosy picture, but customers are saying that the way they’re being reached digitally is disappointing.

In a Twilio study, reasons why businesses are underestimating consumers’ challenges.

Brands are applauding their embrace of email, phone, mobile app, video chat, bots, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, text, and other digital communication services, but are failing to effectively figure out how to use them. They’ve been told to adapt to the changing times or fade into non-existence, and while they’ve subscribed to the spirit of that strategy, they need to do a better job of following it to the letter.

Teaming up with Lawless Research, Twilio surveyed 2,045 consumers and 867 businesses across the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia in order to understand the business-consumer experience. Here are the key findings from that report:

  1. 81% of consumers say it’s difficult to talk to businesses, but only 34% even acknowledge there’s a problem.
  2. With responsiveness a primary factor when talking with a representative, 89% of consumers believe companies are too slow.
  3. There’s a difference in communication style when it comes to millennials and older consumers. The former prefer to be reached using social media and messaging apps.
  4. If you don’t think customer communication matters, think again. Twilio said that the experience a brand presents can impact its perception and ultimately, revenue.
  5. Perhaps what shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, businesses doing customer support correctly have tailored their communication to go out through the right channels at the right time.

Generally businesses across all surveyed industries have received a majority of good and excellent marks, but none of the seven sectors Twilio looked at even had an excellent mark of higher than 15%. Those in the travel/hospitality, ecommerce, and retail industries were at the top of the list with software/tech and telecom/internet companies at the bottom. But should the fact that telecommunication be last surprise anyone?

How customers rated the performance of companies by industry.

Businesses should heed this study because it underscores the belief that one positive experience is shared with one person, but if a customer has a negative experience, it can spread much faster, thereby possibly having a detrimental effect on the company.

It’s certainly telling that brands have a distorted reality about how their efforts to reach customers are going, so it’s important that support agents and all representatives take a look not just whether they’re on the right channels, but how they’re using these tools to communicate with people. While the famous quote from “Field of Dreams” is telling, the truth is that in today’s age, shoppers and buyers are communicating in many different ways so brands need to be on point in listening to any feedback and problems.

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