Like a good relationship, all good business is based on strong communication. Any successful business person will tell you that’s because the foundation of business is relationships – with your employees, partners, and vendors, and most importantly with your customers.
Building these relationships through strong, clear communication is what differentiates a business that thrives from a business that fails. If you want to remain competitive, you need to keep up with the latest trends in communication and build lasting connections with your customers. In 2020 there are more tools to facilitate communication than ever before and improved market research continues to provide insight into new strategies that really work.
Here are 11 of the most effective communication trends in 2020 that will really make a difference for your business:
1. AI Is Shaping Customer Service
Artificial intelligence (AI) is going stronger than ever before and currently leads the communication trends list. In 2020, a growing number of companies will use this technology to empower customer service agents. Not too long ago, AI and chatbots, in particular, were perceived as a threat for customer service reps. The mentality has changed, though. Today’s CX professionals believe that chatbots will empower, not replace, agents.
AI can free employees to focus on more important tasks, such as creating highly personalized experiences and identifying opportunities for upselling. As a company, you can use chatbots to answer basic questions from prospects and customers, provide assistance, and more. More than half of buyers believe that using this technology can increase interaction success and speed.
About 65 percent would rate their experience with chatbots as “friendly.” Approximately 58 percent of them say that chatbot technology is best for simple to moderate requests. By using AI, your company will be able to handle customer requests faster and with greater accuracy. Your agents, on the other hand, will more time to handle complex situations.
2. Customers Expect Personalized Experiences
The need for personalized customer experiences isn’t new, but it’s a trend in communication that is here to stay. The same goes for personalized communication. A staggering 80 percent of customers prefer to buy from brands that offer highly personalized experiences. Furthermore, nearly half of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving personalized recommendations from a brand.
As a marketer or business owner, you need to learn about your customers so you can personalize each interaction. For example, you can use a tone that matches the client’s personality. A customer who enjoys sharing opinions and having longer conversations differs in personality and buying preferences than one who prefers short, formal conversations.
Another strategy is to deliver personalized content to your customers. If you’re sending out promotional emails, customize them for each client. Consider using customer communications management software to track customers’ preferences across all channels. This will allow you to learn more about your target audience and deliver individualized messages.
Watch the video to find out why Customer Experience is no monkey business!
3. Self-Service Is Gaining Momentum
About 81 percent of customers try to solve things on their own before reaching out to a live representative. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a growing number of organizations are investing in self-service technologies. Self-service isn’t just convenient but inexpensive too. This option involves significantly lower costs than phone calls, emails, and live chat. On top of that, it can take many forms.
For example, one way to integrate self-service into customer communications is to set up a knowledge base. Think videos, how-to guides, step-by-step instructions, and so on. Another option is to enable buyers to track their order status. This way, they won’t have to reach out to customer service agents to ask whether or not their order has been shipped and how long it takes to arrive.
4. Automate Your Communications
Keeping regular, open communications with your customers is a hefty task, and unless you can hire someone to be responsible for it full-time, you’re guaranteed to miss opportunities to meaningfully engage. Unless you find a good solution for automating your communications.
That’s where a customer communications management system comes in. You can produce all the content you need to within the system and then schedule that content to be delivered at a specific time via multiple different communications platforms. This cuts out the time and hassle involved with creating and sharing content for individual platforms.
5. Give Customers a Real Feel with Augmented Reality
Real estate agencies, fashion brands, and other businesses have adapted to the latest trends in communication and are now using augmented reality (AR) to interact with their customers. This technology provides consumers with a 3D experience while easing the discomfort they may feel when interacting with strangers. For example, not everyone feels comfortable meeting real estate agents or salespeople. Augmented reality allows them to get a real feel of the products or services they’re interested in without the need for face-to-face interactions.
With AR, you’ll finally be able to reach those customers who never find the time to visit your store or meet your sales agents. If let’s say, you’re an architect, you can use AR to create virtual model holograms and 3D plans. This way, you’ll give your clients a true sense of the space and make their experience more interactive.
6. Virtual Reality Isn’t Just for Video Games Anymore
Giants like Walmart and General Electric have both implemented groundbreaking training programs that rely completely on VR . These training programs allow employees to do hands-on trainings from their home offices rather than sending them to on-location training. Anecdotal evidence shows that VR training programs help employees absorb information better, leading to better outcomes early on in an employee’s career.
Virtual reality can also be used to improve communication with your customers, so it made it to our list of trends in communication. In 2020, VR can be used to provide customers an immersive view of a product or implementation that isn’t yet complete. You can show off the best your business has to offer without having to commit to the build, and it can help narrow down requirements for a big project. If your business is real estate, commercial or residential, the applications of VR are clear – show a property without the open house.
While VR may seem like a steep investment, it could fundamentally change the way you do business for the better.
7. Get in on the Live-Streaming Communication Trend
Businesses have long known the value of recording their communications with both employees and customers and posting that content on the Internet. Live-streaming offers all the same benefits but in real-time. Having a conference or training but don’t want to foot the bill to get all your employees in the same place? Live-stream the event so that everyone can “be there” simultaneously. Hosting an event that you wish all your customers could attend? Live-stream the event so they can “attend” without leaving their homes.
Live-stream technology hasn’t always been the most reliable, but in 2020, there are new technologies and better Internet infrastructure, which adds up to a seamless experience for everyone involved. It allows you to communicate with both employees and customers in real-time and share experiences that were previously limited to in person.
8. Investing in Cloud Storage Solutions
Today’s cloud storage solutions provide businesses with more benefits than ever before. If you’re looking for new ways to store, share, and collaborate, cloud solutions can help you do that by offering:
- More storage space: When it comes to sharing a large amount of data with a lot of people, the cloud offers more storage capacity than any on the ground solution your business could buy, and it’s much cheaper.
- Easier access for employees: Cloud storage allows your employees to securely access information from anywhere without the hassle of a VPN.
- Easier access for customers: Instead of requiring your customers to sign onto a website or going through the hassle of sending multiple large documents via email, cloud solutions allow you to send your customers a direct link to the information they need.
- Cleaner Collaboration: If you have remote teams, collaborating on big projects, cloud-based solutions allow your teams to see edits in real time and better track how changes are made.
9. Commit to Mobile Solutions
For years the standard for remote communication has required your employees and customers to be at a computer, with reliable Internet access. While this is still a great solution for scheduled, team, or client meetings, it doesn’t allow for the flexibility now required for people constantly on the move.
The best thing you can do to really take your business mobile is to follow the latest trends in communication and invest in company cell phones with excellent data plans, at least 4G if not 5G, and invest in a communication application that runs well without WiFi.
Committing to mobile communications with your customers means investing in web solutions that are as accessible on mobile as they are on a computer screen and making sure that your employees are as accessible outside the office as they are in the office. Your website should be built specifically for mobile and all your contact us tools – forms, phone numbers, email links – should work from a mobile device. Any worth it website solution will ensure offer mobile accessibility as part of their base package.
10. Take Video Conferences to a New Level
Video conferencing has long been an essential tool for business communication, and the same players – Skype and GoToMeeting – have dominated the game since the inception of the video conference. While both solutions have worked well for years, they both have their glitches and they both require users to download programs to their computers in order to access the service. Their mobile solutions haven’t kept up with the times either, making it hard for on the move employees and customers to make the meetings you want them to attend.
The newest trends in communication bring new solutions that enable your business to take video conferencing to a new level. Applications like WebRTC provide internet-based video conferencing solutions that don’t require a download. Just send a link and your employees or customer can access the video conference anywhere anytime.
11. Invest in Your Content
Having a website with informative content about your business and your products is no longer enough when it comes to communicating with your current and potential customers. If you want to enhance your customer communications and generate leads, then you need to keep up with the latest trends and expand your online content strategy to include a blog and a presence on all the major social media platforms.
In the past, these content platforms may have seemed extraneous, but now they’re expected. And it’s not something you can just have the intern do part-time. The content you share via all your online platforms is what separates you from the competition, so you need to make sure it’s top notch. Either hire an expert in online content to work for your business directly, or outsource to a high-quality content company that will produce professional content for you.
Choosing Digital Communications Trends that are Worth It
All of these 2020 communications trends are worth a serious look, but most businesses won’t be able to invest in all of these solutions. So, how do you choose? As with any business decision, it comes down to what will benefit your business the most.
Take a look at where your current communication strategies are breaking down or wearing thin. Choosing a solution that addresses those weak links is the best decision you can make, even if the cost seems high.
For more suggestions about how to take your business to the next level, check out our blog, where our experts share what’s worked for them.
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