Twenty years ago, phrases like “LOL” didn’t exist, and you would look at someone like they were insane if they talked about emojis, let alone dared to say “hashtag-girls-night” out loud. The thought that a phone call would be considered too personal and inconvenient even though it was happening through tiny blocks we hauled around in our pockets would have been unimaginable.
Communications have changed drastically. It’s easy to see the shifts when you look at it decade-by-decade, and it’s pretty startling how much our world has changed, but even though things feel more stagnant now, trends are continually evolving. It’s important for brands to keep up.
The ability to communicate in the ways that your customers want you to will be key to driving sales, and it will be essential to keep your employees happy, too. Take a look at these 5 shifts in communication trends that are affecting small businesses in 2019 and how you can adapt.
1. Brevity is Beautiful
In 2019 we all have a lot going on. As a result (and due to changing technologies), most customers and internal employees alike are valuing conciseness more than ever before.
Workers don’t want to sit through meetings and conferences and even phone calls just for the sake of having them; they only want to show up for them when it’s necessary and not a waste of time. Everyone wants to get straight to the point, getting fast answers as quickly as possible. Email, text, and instant-message options like live chat for customers and internal messaging platforms like Slack for employees are increasingly the way to go.
2. Automation Is Becoming More Prominent
Small business owners– and in most cases everyone working for them– are so busy that the increasing number of high-quality-but-still-affordable automation tools hitting the market are a welcome relief.
Communication-oriented automation can take several forms. The most common that we see is using sophisticated call routing technology or auto attendants to quickly deliver a customer to whoever can best help them. This means shorter wait times for the caller without the need for operators to get involved, improving their experience. Tresta offers this feature and it’s a time saver for customers and business owners alike.
Other examples include chatbots, which will actually take the first few steps to answering or fielding incoming questions online. If they can’t answer the questions themselves, they’ll direct the customer to the appropriate person to help.
When it comes to automation, it’s still best to utilize it to speed up your communication process and streamline it instead of relying on it to be your entire communication process so that you can still offer personal customer service to nurture relationships.
3. Immediate, Text-Based Communication is More Popular
No surprises here. If you had a problem with an order or a question about a company’s upcoming event, would you rather wait on hold for thirty minutes with terrible music in the background, or send a message and receive one back within a few minutes?
Text-based communication options are becoming more popular, and customers are increasingly reaching out through these methods. This includes both live chat and text, and internal employees are feeling the same way.
To adapt to this shift in consumer and employee behavior, we’re adding new text functionalities to our virtual business lines. You’ll be able to send and receive texts through the Tresta app, getting both phone calls and SMS messages on the phone that you already have.
4. Brands Are Investing More in Data
It sounds a little clinical– analyzing the technical data of the communications that you share with customers, vendors, and employees– but it can provide outstanding insight for your business. This is why increasing numbers of brands are investing data into what’s working and what isn’t with their communication processes.
Ideally, small business owners will invest in phone systems that include a strong analytics platform. All of Tresta’s virtual business lines come complete with analytics, allowing you to view data based on departments, specific employees, and the phone numbers being called.
You can see how many calls are being answered, how long they’re lasting, and which lines are being called the most. You can even use this to track which PPC ads are sending you the most traffic by putting down a different virtual number for each one.
5. Personalization & Authenticity Matters More
Consumers are demanding expecting more personalized and authentic communications than ever before. This may be one of the most dramatic shifts in communication trends in the past few years, requiring businesses to adapt quickly.
Customers and employees alike want to feel valued, and they want strong, organic relationships with the businesses they choose to work with. Communicating in ways that feel real and meaningful is the way to go here. Instead of robotically sort-of apologizing if someone unhappily reports a problem and then reciting company policy, sincerity will go a long way. Try to come up with solutions that generally resolve the problem, even if it takes a little extra time.
The lines between personal and professional are blurring a bit, and this is a communication shift that business owners need to be ready to adapt to.
Small businesses won’t be able to survive if they’re not built on strong communication practices. Adapting to shifting communication trends as time goes on will improve internal relationships and the consumer experience all at once. Keep an eye on the changes overtime, and be ready to shift along with the trends as needed.
Investing in the right technology upfront will help. Here at Tresta, we keep an eye on the communication trends for you so we can roll out new features and updates to our business line without charging you anything extra.
Want to learn more about how we can help you improve communications for your small business? Check out what our virtual business phone numbers can do for you here.