Inconsistent Communication Is Costing You Customers. Here Are 5 Ways to Help
Customer experience has increasingly become the core of business success. Leaders today are responsible for not only boosting customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty, but also driving business outcomes and growth.
But one area has become a major—and often hidden—cost that hinders them in reaching these goals: inconsistent communication. Delivering consistency across all interactions—in terms of unchanging brand values, imagery, style, messaging, terminology, and tone—is a direct driver of customer satisfaction and business results. Research shows that inconsistencies in communication damage brand credibility by over 50 percent, and consistent experiences can impact revenue growth by as much as 33 percent.
Consistency is vital to move the needle on both CSAT and performance. But growing globalization and new, complex trends have compounded the challenge of inconsistency—and multiplied its impact on results.
Why Meeting Evolving Demands Hinges on Consistent Communication
Customer support leaders have their hands full trying to manage a perfect storm of workforce and customer demands—all while scaling their operations. What many don’t realize is that doubling down on consistency can help address many of these challenges.
On the customer front, the boom in e-commerce and omnichannel has led leaders to embrace new channels—like chat and messaging apps—to keep up with an influx of requests. But while these platforms provide value in engaging customers in new ways, more touchpoints also means more opportunity for disjointed, disconnected interactions. Leaders must bridge these gaps to manage the rise in ticket volume and deliver seamless, consistent experiences across channels.
And not only has the volume of channels, requests, and tickets become taxing, but customers’ expectations have also grown in terms of the quality of interactions. Research shows customers expect personalized, proactive service, but inconsistent interactions cause more back-and-forth and confusion that slows down support and deteriorates experiences. In this way, improving consistency across all touchpoints enhances both the efficiency and quality of support.
Keeping up with these customer needs is daunting enough, but growing workforce dispersion and diversity also make it more challenging—and critical—to keep internal teams in sync. Many organizations are expanding globally or increasing offshoring and outsourcing to keep up with growing volumes. Others need to support increasing numbers of multilingual employees to overcome language barriers and help them stay engaged and productive. These shifts create more complexity and silos that leaders must break down to empower teams and deliver a cohesive, compelling experience.
Addressing all of these challenges starts with creating more consistent communication internally and externally. By overcoming disjointed, off-brand, and inefficient interactions, leaders can drive up customer satisfaction—and more quickly deliver on outcomes.
A Road Map for Improving Consistency—and Why Your Current Approach Doesn’t Work
The typical approach to tackling inconsistency involves increasing investment in training, providing manual guidelines and hotkeys for employees, or deploying new knowledge management systems in an effort to keep teams aligned and on-brand.
But these types of manual approaches are unwieldy to maintain—especially for teams already stretched thin—and ultimately don’t scale to keep pace with growing demands. For example, 41 percent of support teams are slowed down either daily or weekly by siloed tools. Nearly half (46 percent) of support leaders also say their current technology stack holds them back in achieving their goals.
So what does work? Rather than throwing more static tools and training at the problem, the focus should be on optimizing and scaling the consistency of existing communications. Customers and teams don’t need more ways to engage or systems to maintain; they need ways to get the most value out of existing interactions.
With this in mind, here are five steps to take—and questions leaders can ask themselves—to build the right approach to improving consistency:
- Map out objectives. What outcomes am I looking to achieve, and in what ways does consistent communication support them? Whether it’s boosting customer satisfaction or driving team productivity, don’t fall into the trap of investing in new solutions without a clear end goal.
- Identify pain points. In what ways does my organization suffer from inconsistency? Examine the contributing factors you need to overcome (e.g., low bandwidth, language barriers, employee churn, etc.) and where they show up (e.g., declining CSAT, rising costs, slow growth, etc.).
- Inventory and prioritize channels. Where are team and customer communications currently taking place, and which are most important (e.g., email, chat and messaging tools, social media, etc.)? Consider which ones drive the most engagement to prioritize—and which you could reduce.
- Re-evaluate resources and investments. What current resources and investments do I have to support these needs (e.g., training, point solutions, QA processes, etc.)? Consider where they have delivered—and where they fall short—from an ROI perspective.
- Harness the right tools. Where should I re-focus investments to optimize the consistency of communications—while not creating digital overload? AI-powered technologies and tools like coaching platforms, digital style guides, and translation services are a few examples that can help build consistency in communication while integrating easily across existing systems.
As we look ahead, the challenges facing support leaders are bound to intensify as teams and customers interact more quickly in more ways and places. In this environment, building more consistent communication will be the foundation of winning over customers—and maximizing results.
Dorian Stone is general manager of Grammarly Business, overseeing all operations for the integrated business solution. Previously, Stone was vice president of customer experience strategy and marketing at Medallia. He was also a cofounder and leader of McKinsey & Company’s Global Customer Experience practice and a program director and volunteer in the Peace Corps. Stone holds a bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College, a master’s degree in international studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s in business administration from UPenn’s The Wharton School.