Why is communication important in customer service? How can it be improved?

Customer service is a crucial element of a company’s strategy. It is one of the most important contact points with customers and a key opportunity to create a positive experience for them. Customer service involves many aspects, but communication remains the most important factor for establishing a strong and enduring relationship. Efficient communication can help resolve problems more quickly, in a way that is more satisfying for both the customer and the agent, to provide valuable information and respond to questions, which can lead to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty. By contrast, poor communication can have disastrous results, such as unhappy customers, negative reviews, and lower sales. The numbers speak for themselves: According to one study, close to 70% of customers have quit a brand due to poor customer service. In this article, we are going to explore in detail the importance of communication in customer service, the advantages of efficient communication for companies, and the mistakes to avoid.

Why is communication important in customer service?

Communication is a key element for ensuring quality customer service. According to a study, 90% of customers consider quick responses and communication quality as important criteria in customer experience. Furthermore, 86% are ready to pay more for better customer service. Communication can make the difference between a positive and a negative experience. Clear, empathetic, and efficient communication can lead to quick problem resolution and improved overall experience. On the other hand, insufficient communication can lead to lost trust, dissatisfaction, and reduced customer loyalty. 59% of customers have already left a brand due to poor customer service. It is therefore crucial for companies to implement efficient communication strategies to respond to customer expectations and maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty.

What are the impacts of poor communication on customer service?

89% of customers have already left a brand after a poor communication experience. This statistic shows to what extent the professionalism of customer service and the quality of conversations represent a critical challenge for brands. Poor communication, missing information, and a lack of kindness can have negative, sometimes prohibitive, effects on customer relationships and loyalty.

Poor communication affects customer satisfaction. Unclear, mixed, and contradictory communication can leave a customer confused, frustrated, and dissatisfied, leading to a loss of trust. The customer may feel misinformed, misunderstood, or deceived, which leads to less trust in your company. According to HubSpot, 33% of customers have stopped buying from a brand due to poor communication. In addition, NewVoiceMedia states that companies lose 62 billion dollars every year due to poor customer experience. Finally, according to an Accenture study, a poor customer experience can cost companies up to 1.6 billion dollars per year.

There is a direct link between the quality of the communication offered and cost optimization. Inefficient communication can lead to repeated and useless exchanges and cost time and energy for both customers and agents—leading to lower productivity. In addition, poor communication can lead to errors, misunderstandings, and legal issues, creating additional costs.

Lacking communication can lead to more customer complaints. According to an Accenture study, 52% of customers admit to having left a brand due to multiple contacts needed for the resolution of a single problem.

Lastly, poor communication can also damage the brand image of your company. According to a study conducted by Customer Thermometer, 59% of customers stated that communication quality had a negative impact on their brand perception.

What are the advantages of good communication for customer service ?

Poor communication can strongly impact customer loyalty, customers’ brand perception, and your revenue. Conversely, good communication can drive your sales. According to Accenture, companies that offer exceptional customer experience can see up to a 17% increase in sales. American Express adds that customers are also willing to pay on average 17% more to companies that offer excellent customer service.

Efficient communication contributes to faster problem resolution, which lowers costs for a company. On average, according to a study conducted by Fonolo, a call to customer service costs a company $6. If a problem is not resolved right away, this can lead to extra calls and transfers, increasing this cost.

Good communication with one’s customers must be organized but also humanized! 75% of customers expect their problems to be resolved during their first contact with customer service. According to Forrester, 69% of customers prefer to resolve a problem themselves rather than contacting an agent. According to Hubspot, 90% of customers wish for 24/7 accessibility to service. Self-service tools and chatbots can help resolve problems more quickly and reduce costs for a company. This is why configuration is important: like your agents, a chatbot represents your brand.

Concerning the brand, good communication can lead to an improved image. According to a Forbes study, 84% of customers believe that clear communication is a key factor for their trust in a company. In addition, 68% of customers are more likely to recommend a brand that offers excellent service to its customers.

Communicating well with your customers also allows you to better understand them, better understand their needs and expectations, and also offer personalized service. A Forrester study showed that customer-centric companies experienced brand growth at five times the rate of their competitors that were less customer-centric. Understanding your customers also allows you to avoid certain issues, or, if they arise anyway, to resolve them more quickly.

The importance of omnichannel communication

Customers have more and more communication channels available to them to contact brands: phone, email, chat, social media, etc. To meet their expectations, customer service departments must adopt an omnichannel approach. This means that they must be capable of communicating with customers on all channels in a clear and personalized way. Seamless communication is essential, since it offers an easier conversation and less customer effort. Customers today expect an easy and transparent communication experience.

Efficient omnichannel communication allows your customer service teams to resolve problems more quickly, reducing costs for the company. An Aberdeen Group study found that companies offering omnichannel communication to their customers enjoy a retention rate of 89%–almost double the rate experienced by companies offering just one communication channel.

Following customer comments closely is also important for calming negative experiences that some may have. Around 40% of customers turn to social media to express their frustration with poor customer service. In this particular case, communicating well is essential. It is important to adopt efficient communication that is adapted to the situation.

  • Before responding, take the time to understand the customer’s situation. Show him that you are listening to him and understand his point of view.
  • Remain calm and professional: even if the customer is unhappy or insulting, stay calm and respond professionally. Remain polite and courteous, even if the situation is tense.
  • Give him options that can meet his needs and expectations.
  • Be quick
  • Use the customer’s name and personalize your response to show that you are truly interested in his situation.

How can you improve communication in customer service?

Communicating clearly and eloquently with customers is an essential agent skill—although not always innate. This is why it is important to train your agents in this area and practice roleplaying. This will allow them to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and understand the experience. Agents are often asked to show skill in demonstrating understanding and empathy. By showing that you understand their situation and that you are ready to help them, you can build their trust. It is important to listen to customers attentively and show them that you understand their concerns. According to a HubSpot study, 96% of customers believe that compassion is a key element of customer service quality.

Also be sure to use clear language to avoid confusion or misunderstanding. Avoid technical terms or jargon that not everyone understands. According to an American Express study, 25% of customers have reported having communication problems with a customer service representative due to language that was hard to understand. Using positive and encouraging language is also important and allows you to reassure customers. According to a Groove study, the most reassuring words are « resolve,” “resolved,” “help,” “easy,” and “problem.”

Personalize your communication by using their name and being attentive to their needs. According to Accenture, 75% of customers are more likely to buy from a company that knows their name. Learn in advance about who they are, the context of their request, etc. By connecting your CRM to your CTI, your agents can have a 360° view of the customer as well as real-time monitoring of their purchasing history and their context.

Using omnichannel communication allow you to interact with your customers on their preferred channels, including digital channels such as social media. In this manner, you are more available and reactive. It is nonetheless important to adapt your communication to each channel. Customers expect a different approach, experience, and tone according to their situation, profile, goal at that moment, and the channel where the conversation takes place—your customers may have different needs!

What tools are needed to facilitate communication?

Using efficient communication tools can help you offer a more satisfying customer experience, gain their loyalty, and boost company growth.

  • Adopting a reliable and powerful contact center solution allows you to engage with customers in a flexible and intelligent manner on all channels. The Hermes 360 solution offers your agents, on-premise or remotely, intelligent features for providing your customers quick and relevant responses on all communication channels.
  • Integrating your CTI with your CRM(s) allows you to place customer data at the heart of your engagement strategy. By basing your strategy on data, your communication will only improve. In addition, your agents have the possibility of working from their CRM, enjoying a 360° view of their customers and a unified agent experience, independent from the channels used. This allows them to better communicate with customers on their preferred channels at any time, by accessing an overall view of their conversation history.
  • Using self-service technologies allows you to be available when your customers are. By activating a chatbot on your website, you can extend the access hours of your customer service, automate simple requests, and prequalify complex tasks through a list of tasks attributed to your agents when they log on.
  • Use analysis and measurement tools to monitor agent performance in terms of response time, customer satisfaction rates, etc.

5 mistakes to avoid in customer communication

Efficient customer communication is essential for maintaining a healthy and long-lasting relationship with customers. With that said, certain mistakes can harm this relationship or ruin it completely.

1. Not listening to the customer

It is crucial to listen attentively to a customer’s needs and concerns in order to offer him personalized and adapted service. According to Microsoft, 59% of customers believe that companies do not listen to them enough. In addition, 66% of customers believe that listening is the most important aspect of a positive customer experience, according to Salesforce.

2. Not responding quickly

Customers expect quick answers to their requests. According to a HubSpot study, more than 90% of customers expect a response in the 10 minutes following their request on social media. BVA indicates that when customers contact a brand by phone, 59% of them expect to be handled in less than a minute. When they contact customer service by mail, 78% expect a response that day. 65% of customers expect a response within the hour of contacting a brand on social media.

3. Using an inappropriate tone

Using an inappropriate or condescending tone can anger customers. They may feel insulted, unappreciated, or ignored, which can lead to lower customer engagement and satisfaction.

4. Lacking clarity

Customers must easily understand all information given to them. Using professional jargon or complex language can frustrate customers. A Nielsen Norman Group study found that clarity is the most important characteristic for a successful user experience. In addition, Communication Solutions points out that 42% of customers have declared that unclear or contradictory communications were their greatest point of frustration during a brand interaction.

5. Not following up on promises

It is important to keep your promises when they are made. Breaking promises can reduce customer trust in your company. 68% of customers state that their frustration is due to a lack of clear communication from a company on actions taken, according to an Accenture study.  In addition to frustrating customers, not following up on promises can lead to lower customer satisfaction, impact loyalty, and potentially lower revenue. Label Insight says that 94% of customers are loyal to a company that is transparent with them. Salesforce adds that 84% of customers believe it is very important that companies handle their engagements professionally and transparently.

By avoiding these mistakes, companies can improve their customer communication and maintain a trusting relationship with their customers. To achieve this, it is important to understand common mistakes and implement efficient communication practices.

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