Almost half of UK businesses have increased their customer communication efforts in response to COVID-19 according to new research, as firms look to respond to the array of challenges presented across industries over the past ten months.

With less face to face communication compared to pre-pandemic levels, and other unprecedented shifts such as the rise in demand of online shopping and home delivery, businesses have had to pivot to offer maximum transparency and the best possible service for customers and partners.

SMS communications provider TextAnywhere surveyed businesses to determine how they had used customer communications to maximise service during the pandemic. With 43 per cent of businesses in the UK now messaging more to potential and existing partners and customers, Demi Edmunds, communications specialist at TextAnywhere, has outlined 3 tips for stronger business messaging in lockdown 3.0:

Be as helpful as possible

For companies that are still open for business during this lockdown, appointment management and reminder messaging will likely be appreciated by your customers right now. One in five businesses surveyed said they are using communication messaging during the pandemic to discuss both delivery information and appointment management with their customers, demonstrating the popularity of this method during the lockdown.

When sending out appointment-related messages, businesses can include a link to their platform which enables individuals to change or cancel their booking should they not feel well, or are faced with circumstances in which they need to self-isolate. This also enables businesses to redistribute these appointments and arrange staffing levels as required and helps to mitigate customers from forgetting their appointment or mixing up the correct time or day.

Keep it personalised

Customers have come to value and almost expect a personalised service – even prior to the pandemic, 54 per cent of consumers anticipated a personalised discount within just one day of providing their details to a retailer. With lockdown measures making consumers unable to interact with businesses in person, many customers have become more comfortable with sharing their personal data, in order to continue progressing with applications and completing purchases.

Given this shift in data sharing, businesses now have less of an excuse not to utilise consumer data to create increasingly sophisticated personalisations and audience segmentation. To stand out against fierce competition during the pandemic, businesses who are able to create a more personalised shopping or customer experience, are more likely to secure those all-important sales and achieve greater customer loyalty. By coupling this with a clear ‘call to action’ to make bookings and purchases as easy as possible, businesses will help to ensure customers can navigate their site easily and increase the likelihood of their returning in the future.

Gather valuable feedback

A great way to use this time is to carry out research on how customers currently view your business. Many businesses are hesitant to engage in research whilst they face operational challenges as a result of the lockdown, with additional restrictions and reduced staffing across the board. However, gathering feedback from customers does not have to become a lengthy process, with options such as an SMS survey, email questionnaire, or quick telephone interview acting as powerful tools to collate customer feedback.

By sending out a survey to customers during this lockdown, businesses can use this data to identify any areas of weaknesses or potential new revenue streams when planning ahead for the rest of 2021, pulling together an appropriate plan to address these. While many businesses across the UK are limited in their capacity to operate during the pandemic, the use of customer communications has never been so important, and by gathering this data, businesses will be in a position to further personalise the experience presented to their customers at every touch point.

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