Say What? Lessons I learned in communication fragmentation

"Hey, I just wanted to call to make sure you got my email. Right, you didn't get it? let me send it again. Huh, it works now, not sure why that happened". You don't hear this line very often anymore. It's hard to imagine I used to say this on a weekly basis when I started my career more than 10 years ago as a Finance sales rep. It was also the perfect excuse to delay a certain process from happening, blame it on the email...

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Everyone would agree that communication has become easier over the years, emails have tracking functions, they're tied to your calendar so you don't miss a meeting. Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp make it easier to connect with people. Pictures, videos, and GIFs (not sure what to think about this one) are easily shared with a few clicks.

These new features are making our lives easier, right...? When you're running a business, with multiple customer orders/inquiries to track everyday, things can get complicated quickly.

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Customer communications have changed over the years. As I kicked off my career, people were still using their fax for important documents. All email communication had to be confirmed by a call to ensure proper delivery. I can't imagine that being the case now, and how much business we would lose if we rely on that archaic system, these new apps do help.

However, with the new generation of tools at our disposal, new problems are generated. We no longer see emails getting lost, at least to our knowledge... But have you had a customer message you via WhatsApp, and you forgot about it because you were following the email chain? Another example would be a customer sends you an in-app message that your team read, but you didn't realize because you were away?

I don't have a crystal ball which magically shows the next 5 years of communication technology. I can, however, share some tips:

1. Think about the most common ways through which you communicate with your customers and team. We'd all like to have one simple solution, but that may not alway be the case, so plan accordingly and try to have a complete solution suite that covers all grounds.

2. Think beyond free solutions. WhatsApp, messenger, emails, these are great tools to start you off, but they're free for a reason. They're generally very basic and don't offer any advanced features, like followup reminders, playbooks, campaign creation. Tools like Hubspot, Zendesk, Mailchimp combines some of the above features and reduces communication fragmentation, making your customer interaction that much more seamless.

3. Create a plan for your team to communicate with your customers. Being away or on vacation isn't an excuse for your customers to stop receiving updates. Open chat groups and include your teammates. Invest in a system with shared logins, like Zendesk, Intercomm, or the GROM OMS if you're in the medical device space.

4. Last but certainly not least. Security has increasingly becoming a concern for even some of the world's biggest tech companies. Depending on which industry you're in, it's best to figure out what compliance will come into play as you scale, and adopt a communication platform that's trusted in your related industry. Fact: WhatsApp, although widely used, is NOT a secured platform.

There's no perfect way to ensure 100% customer response and satisfaction, but it's good to know that there are solutions out there. With some strategic planning, you'll be on the path to higher customer retention and profits in no time.

Ivan Yeung has over 12 years of experience in the Customer Service and Project Management space, both in corporate and startups. He specializes in process improvement, customer success, on-boarding and retention. Please reach out to him via LinkedIn or email him at ivan@getgrom.com

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