Despite the explosion in the number of communication platforms and tools, it is not always easy to maintain a good link between customers and staff.

How to negotiate the multi-channel communication jungle and better serve your B2B clients

Despite the explosion in the number of communication platforms and tools, it is not always easy to maintain a good link between customers and staff. Just because we have numerous communication tools does not mean that we are communicating more any more effectively. So how can we maximize the chances of connecting with our target and maintaining a long-lasting relationship? Instead of throwing yourself headlong into the jungle of unnecessary communication channels, use your instincts to create an effective omnichannel paradise.

"Tell me what tools you use and I'll tell you who you are”. While that formula seemed relevant ten years ago, today it is much harder to work out the connected profile of users who juggle between a multitude of applications, from the most widely used to the least known, from the most accessible to the most specialized. Indeed, things would be simpler if there was a clear line between consumer tools and professional tools and if each company - or, failing that, each industry sector - had a defined and limited range of tools which were used in the same way by all users. However, it is clear that there are as many uses and behaviors as there are users. However, do not fear! All is not lost. It is still possible to reach the paradise of multi-channel connection, if you follow these tips.

Rainbow Blog jungle mighty jungle 740x536

In the jungle, as in the office, an excess of communications tools defeats the object of communications

source : https://xkcd.com/1810/

Skype or Google Hangouts? WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, Slack or Trello? Jive or Sharepoint? Are you looking for the perfect tool for your business? Your quest for the Holy Grail is likely to be long and arduous ... Unless you have hours (or even days) to lose to researching, comparing and testing all of the different tools on the market, maybe you just have to face the facts: when it comes to communication tools, the Holy Grail - if it exists at all - has not yet been found. There are only two solutions: either you decide to impose a single tool on all your employees or you let them choose the tools that are best suited to what they do.

In the latter case, your staff will be delighted with the freedom you have given them but it comes with the risk that they may not be able to communicate effectively with each other and that is an issue that you will always need to bear in mind. The alternative, that should also keep them happy, is to probe them on what tools they use and adopt those which have the greatest levels of support among the staff.

1. Adapt to your environment

It is important that your staff are happy with the tools used internally. There is just one condition: That your employees are not members of a micro-community of geeks always on the lookout for the least used tool that is utterly unknown in the "normal world of normal people." Obviously, it is better for your staff to use standard tools with which they can easily communicate not only with other staff members but also with your customers.

2. The internal directory is at the heart of communication

Regardless of the tool (or tools) chosen for your company, one thing should not be overlooked: You must take care of your internal directory and ensure that it is regularly updated. Each contact with a customer must be used as an opportunity to check and update their data. In addition, to survive in the multi-channel communication jungle and maximize the chances of making contact with your customers, be sure to specify, within your directory, the channels that each of your customers prefer using. Identifying these tools - and determining the most frequently used - can be very useful when trying to determine which channels and tools are best for your company.

3. Don’t blame the tools

Without any doubt, it’s very cathartic to let off steam on the technology, to accuse the tools of all the evils under the sun without ever questioning your own capacities and limits. Blaming this or that software for being responsible for your failures, for the contracts that you do not sign, and for the clients that do not answer is not very constructive. In any event, we all know that no tool will meet all your precise requirements and expectations and that technical problems, issues and bugs, as annoying and time consuming as they are, are part and parcel of the real-world computing experience and they are not about to disappear any time soon. This does not mean that you should choose any old tool but it does mean that you have to be realistic and accept that you will definitely have to deal with small technical glitches from time to time. Just make sure you are ready with back-ups and relevant recovery tools in case of a bug. That way, you will be able to keep in touch with your customers whatever happens.

4. Training does not stop with the tools

Professionalism does not stop with the mastery of tools. You will also need to train your employees in know-how and use and abuse of training so that multi-channel communication becomes a true, professional philosophy.

5. Safely accept employees’ practices

The lives of your employees do not stop when they leave work and neither do their digital practices. It is entirely normal for your employees to use tools and be connected across multiple channels outside of work. It may also seem perfectly natural for them to bring their own equipment to the office, the kit that they are used to and are comfortable using. This practice – known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) - can pose some security problems. While 26% of companies opt for the nuclear option of banning this practice altogether, it may be wise to opt for a less radical solution by not prohibiting this practice but by supervising it. For example, whenever a user connects their smartphone or tablet to the corporate network, a secure internal procedure can guide the user through steps to make everything safe and secure. This framework has the double advantage of keeping the employee happy while avoiding the need for the company to spend more on an unnecessary kit.

Best of breed: Is the Holy Grail to be found in specialized services? The great era of "ERP everywhere" seems to be over. Nowadays, companies often opt for best of breed solutions that are better suited to their industry. This trend is also evident in the social computing arena. Integrating tools that provide a similar experience to that of social networks can be the best of both worlds (general and professional). Corporate social networks are appearing in more and more companies. Publishers have come to realize that this is a potential market for them.

Ultimately, optimizing multi-channel communication is a major challenge not only for communications within the company but also with customers. Instead of establishing a clear line between personal and professional users, taking advantage of the skills that staff have developed in their personal lives can only be beneficial for companies. Everything is then a question of checks and balances.

About the author
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Pascale Decressac

Journalist and Editor

A journalist and editor, Pascale DECRESSAC has a wealth of experience in web writing and journalism, with a specialty in local government, public sector marketing, urban planning and Smart Cities.

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