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 17 of the most effective communication trends in 2020 that will really make a difference for your business:
- AI Shaping CS
- Personalized Experiences
- Automate Communications
- Augmented Reality
- Virtual Reality
- Cloud Storage
- Mobile Solutions
- Video Conferences
- Invest in Content
- Omnichannel Communication
- Customer Journey
- Customer History
- Consistency Across Platforms
- Versatile Delivery Channels
- Document Type Preferences
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 service 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.
Learn more about Top AI Trends for 2020
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 High-quality 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.
12. Focus on Omnichannel Communication
A successful customer communications plan is all about meeting consumers where they are, and understanding the ways in which you’re the most likely to reach them. Remember that in 2020, your customers have multiple channels through which you can communicate with them.
Just take into consideration the fact that the average person has a minimum of five different social media accounts. Of course, some of your customers may not have any social media accounts at all. Instead, they’d much prefer to be contacted by telephone, through email, or even by good old-fashioned snail mail.
Others will want your company to send them texts about their order progress, upcoming sales, and more. You need to be able to communicate with customers across multiple platforms, whether that’s in print, online, or over the telephone.
A major trend in communication is switching to omnichannel communication. Make it a priority for your business, so that you’re able to contact them in the way they want to hear from you.
13. Offer Help Throughout the Customer Journey
If your goal is to increase your conversions and your customer satisfaction at the same time, then you need to be available to assist your customers when they’re struggling to understand what to do next, which products to choose, or even how to fill out forms.
To make this happen, you’ll need to identify the problem points within the overall customer journey to make communication with customers even stronger. In order to figure out where customers are abandoning your site or having other issues, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the customer as well as look at what the data is telling you.
Customer journey mapping makes this possible — and helps you to determine the kinds of solutions you need to implement, which makes it a top communication trend in 2020. Could adding a live customer support chat or even a chatbot help your customers to learn more about a particular product or even guide them towards the specific services that best suit their needs?
Can you allow them to use autofill features in order to eliminate the need for them to manually enter data on your site? If customers leave your site without purchasing items in their cart, would sending a follow-up email reminding them of what they’ve left behind be the incentive they need to complete a purchase?
Your website needs to mimic in-person customer service as closely as it can — and be able to provide a personalized level of attention in real-time.
14. Know the Customer’s History
Did you know that the average consumer is willing to pay approximately 16% more if it means they get exceptional customer service? If you want to justify higher prices — and even if you already charge competitive rates — you need to keep up with the trends in communication and do everything you can to personalize the customer service experience.
Before you respond to a customer, or while you’re answering their questions, make sure you have their order history and customer account pulled up in front of you. When you speak with these customers, note their preference of tone, language, and the kind of problem they’re calling about. You can save these preferences in your customer file and generate documents and future communications based on what you know the customer wants.
Note down details like their age, the amount they usually spend with you, (so you can make suggestions in their budget) and additional demographics. The more personalized you can make your communications, the higher the number of loyal customers you’ll have. This communication trend is valuable in the long run.
15. Streamlined Operations and Consistency Across Platforms
The last thing your customers want is to have to answer the same questions over and over again, or to dig back through old emails and order histories to provide your company with information they’ve already provided you with on a past customer service interaction.You need to be certain that when an issue is resolved, is in the process of being resolved, or needs to be transferred to another department, everyone in your office is on the same page.
Make document and customer profile updates seamlessly, in real-time, and ensure that everyone with access to them sees these changes the moment they happen.
Find out more about Customer Communication Software Features
16. Keep All Lines Open – Be Versatile with Delivery Channels
Or Print’s Not Dead
Even if customers prefer a variety of mediums (email, fax, SMS) we have more than enough reason to believe that the trend in communication is to go digital. Businesses need a digital foundation to support omni-channel delivery of communications in order to be competitive. This is actually where your relationship to the individual customer starts. The technology feeds into your wealth of information so that you can know who wants what, and when.
Going digital is what helps you become versatile. You’re not abandoning print because of a massive change in customer taste. People like options. If you want customer engagement, the true communication trend in 2020 is to keep all of your lines open. Print, digital – fax, email, SMS – Omni-channel communication is becoming standard phraseology in business, because the issue meeting businesses is not the rise of any single generation – it’s the diversity in generations translating to a colorful range of preferences.
Some people, old and young, prefer to hold a paper document in their hand, and then to ship a response in the same way (sad, you don’t employ carrier pigeons to appease their nostalgia). Others like a purely snappy, instantaneous customer experience with nothing to hold at all (unfortunate, you’re not a telepath).
The name of the game is not fast and easy, but versatile. The goal in communication today is being everything to everyone. You can do this, effectively, with the right technology.
Find out more about Personalized Communications
17. Account for Document Type Preferences
Whether it’s SMS, tablet, email, fax, or phone, content matters. This goes beyond the content you have on your website. The content in your documents matters as well. When delivering any kind of messaging to anyone, the question you should be asking is “Is it something the customer cares about?”
Customer preferences are especially varied when it comes to the length and quality of content we consume. Similar to channel preferences, you could pigeonhole millennials for favoring shorter, more concise reading – if any at all – and baby boomers for being more tolerant of longer, more detailed text. Giving each customer the type of content he or she wants is the communication trend in 2020.
There are more possibilities to consider in document production than you might think initially. Not only is density of content important, but have you ever considered the different types of content present on one sheet of paper? Yes, there is text, but there are also images. You have logos, banners, borders, charts, and graphs. Maybe you’ll have specially targeted advertisements.
The latest trend in communication is measuring the effectiveness of all these digital elements, which is possible via competent technologies. Ecrion actually offers a mode of communication called the “digital experience document” which offers a completely interactive experience for customers, not only with drill-down and slice-and-dice graphics but also a circular exchange of information. The different elements collect data pertaining to how customers interact with them, and this information feeds back into your database to inform future messaging.
Find our more about the Features of Document Automation
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.