The Next Wave of B2C Communications

In today’s digital era, no brand can afford to overlook its approach to business-to-consumer communications. Customers today expect far more from brands than ever before. The days of standing in queues and spending hours on the phone trying to speak to customer care agents are over. Customers are not interested in offers that are not personalised to their needs, either. Customers expect brands to provide a high level of service that is proactive and seamless, with no delays and problems caused by billing problems or failed collection policies.

In South Africa alone, the business environment is taking a huge strain, and it’s not just because of the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown. Companies are also trying to find ways to keep customers while also reducing time, costs and effort. Keeping traditional call centres going and not having a cohesive business-to-customer communication protocol in place can put companies at a very real risk of failure.

To survive in 2021, brands need to start thinking seriously about how they can simplify the way that they deal with customers across every channel and platform. The new wave of business-to-customer communication is all about immediacy, convenience, certainty, accuracy, and choice. It’s also about cost-effective technology designed to scale as business needs evolve. In short, 2021 is about tracking, slicing, dicing, and measuring.

Bridging the Digital Communications Gap Between Businesses and Customers

As an established innovator in digital communications, Grapevine Interactive has helped some of South Africa’s most recognised brands bridge the communications gap between businesses and customers. Over the years, we have seen constant changes in the digital space as new technologies emerge.

Businesses are looking to work smarter, not harder and consumers are no longer willing to settle for a poor customer experience. In the year to come, we expect to see an even more rapid change in the way that businesses connect to consumers. Some of the biggest B2C communications shifts that will define which brands are left behind include the following:

Optimising call centres.

Optimised call centres are designed to cut resource time, maximising effort and saving costs. Outdated call centres require a huge amount of resource. Just from a staffing point of view, the overheads are massive. For large brands and multinational companies, the overheads are even higher. Over and beyond the need for physical call centres, there is also the need for staff training, various equipment, telecommunications costs, and sales and support staff employment costs. Optimising call centres with messaging and other digital channels can drastically reduce these costs, while also giving customers a direct line to key departments. This removes the frustration that customers face when spending long periods of time being on hold.

Getting more from SMS.

SMS is a channel that is still greatly underutilised. Although it is one of the fastest, simplest, most direct points of contact for consumers, many brands do not use SMS to its fullest extent. Many message campaigns are not tracked, making it harder to determine send and open rates. To get the most from SMS, it is essential to invest in solutions that are direct and efficient. Grapevine worked with a leading South African financial services provider running a large inbound sales call centre. Thanks to COVID-19 and lockdown regulations, communication regarding new regulations needed to be delivered to sales agents across the country. A rapid, direct communications system was needed to send time-sensitive documents and trackable delivery records were needed to ensure that all agents had received documents. Grapevine provided this client with a cost-effective mobile communications solution that enabled them to manage SMS communications. Our ActiveSMS solution was used with trackable links to relevant documents.

Re-engaging with customers.

Once a customer leaves your website, online store, mailing list or business, you have very few chances to bring them back. With that said, you don’t have to lose customers completely – even if they have not engaged with your business for some time. Engagement plays a critical role in all stages of the customer journey, from initial lead generation to customer acquisition and customer retention. To get a better idea of why customers are no longer engaging, you need to go straight to the source and ask the right questions. One of the simplest ways to do this is to use customer satisfaction surveys that allow customers to give their feedback on various aspects of their interaction with your business. These could include their overall satisfaction with your business, their satisfaction with the service they receive, their satisfaction with your products/services, and even their satisfaction with your prices. Offering additional space for customers to leave comments will provide even more feedback. Along with customer satisfaction surveys, you can also offer personalised offers, rewards or other gifts that offer an incentive to return.

Increasing digital delivery.

A major bottleneck in customer service is delays and problems with statements, price lists and various other documents typically involved in business-to-consumer communication. Postal delivery is almost non-existent and almost all documents are delivered digitally, via SMS, email, customer portal or shortcode. Despite the fact that documents are sent digitally, they are not always automated in a way that tracks delivery, increases delivery times, prevents missed statements or invoices or other virtual paperwork. When there is no traceability in place, it becomes extremely difficult for companies to ensure accountability.

Automated customer-facing business processes.

Managing and optimising consumer-facing business processes is critical to stay ahead.

This means being able to provide customers with the right content, with the right offer, at the right time, on the right channel. It also means having an automated path to conversion through the right sequence of events. Grapevine makes it easier for businesses to automate all consumer-facing processes and communication workflows. Business processes can be accelerated, with all areas of business automated, from marketing to mobile document delivery, collections, and all other areas of customer interaction. We helped a leading home shopping retailer in South Africa achieve a cohesive customer experience with an automated communications platform that stored all data in a single place and providing comprehensive omnichannel strategies to be run through one platform.

At Grapevine Interactive, our goal is not purely to offer basic solutions that help businesses gain more leads. We also consistently strive to streamline the entire customer journey, providing value at every point. We help businesses manage business processes and streamline the transition between channels across all digital touchpoints. Through our user-friendly platforms and tools, we take the stress out of digital communications, helping businesses increase delivery rates and response time.

To stay ahead in 2021, it will be essential to work with a partner who has an extensive understanding of the customer journey as well as the tools needed to enhance this journey. To find out more about what Grapevine Interactive can do to revolutionise your business-to-consumer communications, schedule a call with one of our consultants today.

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