Our new reality is creating a mandatory reliance on digital technology and remote communication channels. In recognition of this, we wanted to provide education and resources for our clients during this time.
With workforces and clients working from home and seeking information online, now is not the time to retract your customer communication efforts, now is the time to pivot your communication from face-to-face and traditional phone calls to video, chat, SMS, Instant Messaging, email and as much information and support on your website as possible.
Along with the pivot of remote communication channels we recommend you provide consistent messaging of support on how your business can help. So let's dive in!
To help with your transition, here are some tips and resources to consider:
- Video Teleconferencing
- Social Platforms
- Instant Message
- Website Knowledge Base
Your meetings internally and externally are now remote, luckily the technology to facilitate this is fairly ubiquitous today with software such as: GoToMeeting, Zoom, Join.me, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Skype, and Teams to list a few, dominating the space.
We have used all of the above listed and more, there are pluses and minuses to each. The key is to pick a platform for your budget (many have free option) and what works for you, your staff and your clients. A more exhaustive list is attached in the link below:
Best video conferencing software 2020: Paid and free solutions for business | TechRadar
Several platforms are offering free sign ups, notably Microsoft:
JP Courtois, Corporate Vice President, at Microsoft was stated as saying this is a health and safety move for employees, customers, partners, and communities by making remote work even easier. Here is the full story.
More information on Microsoft Teams from the following link.
Video Conferencing Hardware
Along with video teleconferencing software, you need cameras and mics. To be honest we mostly run with a laptop camera and headphones, supplemented by board rooms equipped with cameras and speakers, however if you are needing a package for team members including camera and headset, we recommend Logitech.
Best Practices for Video Meetings
With screen sharing you can create very effective and immersive meetings for groups of staff or teams of clients. Additionally you can also look at conducting webinars to provide training to clients and staff that can be viewed live or accessed as people are able.
The technology has evolved fast and new capabilities seem to roll out daily...now's the time!
Best practices for video meetings:
Tips for managing a remote workforce:
Plus stats about remote work (rather timely):
12 Handy Tips for Running Better Remote Meetings:
With the change in channel communication we have a client that has received a 374% increase in Chat activity this week. Clearly customers are reaching out from home for this organization.
If you have chat enabled on your website you want to ensure your automated messaging is updated and additional operators are ready to support in high volume times.
There are many platforms, (the list is exhaustive see below) again we have used or implemented several such as Zendesk, Crisp, Hubspot Chat, and Salesforce chat. Additionally, messaging through social platforms is a form of Chat and with some chat engines, your social platforms can be linked and consolidated so all messaging is in one place.
Most are not free but SAAS subscriptions costs can be very minimal if you are just looking for a basic chat.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram are the big four for most businesses. Ensure your communication is consistent and the channels are monitored as consumers will use these to reach out more than ever. If you are unable to monitor I would suggest stating that this channel is not monitored and provide the best method for your customers to reach out. Customers will be looking for information online on the channels they spend their time. Make sure at minimum you post where they can find it.
Is texting the new email? I don't think so, it is and remains a separate, more personal channel. That being said, there are platforms for conducting mass text messaging and automated/triggered workflows. Also, depending on the mobility of your clients, it may be the best way to keep them informed about what they need to know about your business.
An Exhaustive list of platforms is here:
Perhaps a better list (shorter) with more details to provide understanding basics of platforms:
With all the new channels emerging, people for years have being saying email is dead. It's not. For long-form deeper dive content (like this message), it is king. As well, email opens, engagement, and click throughs can all be tracked so you can learn the type of communication your customers value.
There are many email marketing providers to choose from such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp or marketing automation platforms such as Pardot, Marketo, Klaviyo, and HubSpot. The costs vary, as do the features, but if you do not have your customers in segmented lists, and a communication strategy in place, now is the time more than ever.
Generally IM is internal, however we have known organizations to have key accounts integrated into an IM platform. The leader in this arena is Slack, (in fact, "I will Slack you" has become a verb) but hot on the heals is Microsoft Teams. No matter the platform, having one is critical to remote work. The quick office pop in questions are gone. They now have to be a message, and texting can be messy as it mixed with all the other messaging a team member has. Get an IM platform and have dedicated company channels to keep organized.
Best Practices for IM at work (except #4 doesn't work now unless you use video)
Website Knowledge Base
As you are less able to serve your customers, the best practice of enabling them to serve themselves is now essential. One best practice is having an extensive knowledge base on your website.
As this may be a new term for you, let's start by answering the question, what is a knowledge base:?
As defined by www.atlassian.com, "A knowledge base is a self-serve online library of information about a product, service, department, or topic.
The data in your knowledge base can come from anywhere. Typically, contributors who are well versed in the relevant subjects add to and expand the knowledge base. The content can range from the ins and outs of your HR or legal department to an explanation of how a product works. The knowledge base may include FAQs, manuals, troubleshooting guides, runbooks, and other information your team or customers may want or need to know."
Interestingly, most companies already have a knowledge base it just needs to aggregated, polished up, and posted online. A great example of a topical simple knowledge base implemented quickly is https://www.flamanfitness.com/covid19-updates
(Full disclosure our Managing Director is also Board Chair of Flaman Fitness so we would hope they are using best practices!)
Bringing It All Together
At the end of the day, this is a list to help you understand the possibilities you have available to you. You may decide you just need to add a chat to your website (or enhance your chat) and that is the extent of your needs.
You may realize you need a more comprehensive communication strategy. For instance what should you be communicating to your clients, with what channel? Email, SMS, Social Posts, or a webinar? If you would like advice we are here to help and we will be posting strategy articles in the future.
As you start to look at the various platforms to communicate with customers and staff it can get overwhelming, and too many to manage and separately set up, which is why an overarching systems or a technology stack have emerged.
Imagine having your email, chat, website contact forms; social all tied together? That is where most modern cloud CRM solutions have evolved to such as Salesforce, Zoho, HubSpot, Nimble, Pipedrive...the list is long. (Full disclosure we are a HubSpot partner and user).
As you ponder your needs, moving to a single source of truth in an overarching platform for your customer communication may be the obvious choice, now more than ever. Discounts are being offered by many.
If you have made it all way to the bottom great work! Lots to chew through in this release.
We want to express that we are here for you. If you want to reach out to gain clarity or help with implementation of any of these tools, we are around.
We want to continue to express that we are here for you. If you want to reach out to gain clarity or help with implementation of any of these tools, we are around (remotely). We are also committed to providing ongoing education in this area with a weekly frequency. Next week we will be reviewing communication strategy and a deeper dive on how to use the tools effectively to manage your now remote workforce and remote clients.
Until then, be well,
The Team at Graphic Intuitions