How to talk to customers

Did you know that a simple misunderstanding contributed to the bombing of Hiroshima? True story, look it up. 

Clear communication that leaves no room for confusion is vital in your business.

The Right Way To Communicate With Customers

Basic communication skills

Good communication is about more than what you say. The way you communicate comes naturally, but it is possible to learn to communicate better.

Making some small changes can make you appear genuinely interested in the person you are talking to, and allows you to get your message across effectively. Both of these will seriously boost your customer service.

Pay attention to your interactions with other people, and see if you can improve in the following aspects:

  • Keep it simple. We all know that one person who gets to their point in long, elaborate ways. It can be incredibly difficult to follow such a person’s story, which is usually as dull as can be.
    Know what you want to say and get to the point before you lose your listener. 
  • Be positive. People relate to you better if you phrase things in a positive way.
  • Communicating well is not only about talking. You need to be a good listener as well.
    Show the other person that you are paying attention by making eye contact, and responding to the things they are telling you.
  • Do not interrupt the other person. This is especially a valuable skill when it comes to customer complaints. You might feel that the customer is wrong, but let them talk their hearts out.
    This is the first step in showing them that you care about their concerns. Getting a clear understanding of the problem also helps you to solve it to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Monitor the discussion regularly to ensure all parties are on the same page. If it looks like the other person is uncertain about what you have said, try to rephrase it to help them understand.
    Similarly, repeat what they said in different words to make sure that you understood correctly.
  • Leave a favourable impression by showing that you are willing to do more at the end of the conversation.
    You would, for example, ask if there is something else you can help with, or let the person know what will happen next, and when.
The seven Cs of communication

Clear Identify the purpose of your communication. If you don’t know what it is, your listener won’t either.
Concise Stick to your point, keep it brief.
Concrete Convey a solid message with vivid details and enough facts (but not too many).Correct Give your listener information that is free of mistakes and that is on a level that they can understand.
Coherent Your points should be logical, connected and relevant to the main topic.
Complete Ensure that your message contains all the information that the audience needs. If necessary, add a call to action so that the listener knows exactly what is expected of them.

What you need to know about online communication

Many of our daily interactions, especially in business, occur online. When you are not talking to someone face-to-face, you can’t hear their tone of voice, which can very easily lead to a misunderstanding.

Therefore, these types of communication have additional rules and etiquette. Here are some tips.


Before you even decide what you are going to say, it’s important to reply promptly. Can you imagine the response you’ll get if you only reply to an irate customer’s complaint two weeks later?

Then, address your recipient respectfully, especially if it’s someone you don’t know. Something like ‘Dear Bruce’ is much more professional than ‘Hey Bro!’

Keep your message to the point, and steer clear of sarcasm or even humour – these can easily be misunderstood with the reader not being able to read your body language or tone of voice.


Quick, easy and almost everyone has it. It’s a no-brainer that WhatsApp will be used for business purposes as well. 

However, if you are dealing with a new contact, it’s a good idea to ask them if they are okay with receiving a WhatsApp from you. Most people are, but it’s polite to make sure they aren’t just using it for social purposes.

On WhatsApp you don’t have to be quite as formal, but still keep your messages short and to the point. Stick to business hours, and never spam a customer.

Social media

The thing to remember with social media is that it is a conversation, and you have to be present for it. Do not simply post and disappear. Check the comments you get, and respond to them.

Few things look worse than a business ignoring their customers on social media. The trick to successful communication on social media is to simply be nice. 

Answer every single comment, in a polite, professional and positive manner. If you get offensive comments it’s okay to delete them, but always respond to complaints and try to resolve the situation.

5 important ways to talk to customers

Language and communication are the tools with which you convince customers of the benefits of doing business with you. Learn to be mindful of the way you say things. 

Being aware of what you say and how you say it empowers you to improve. Here’s how:

  1. Less is more. Let’s say you are in the process of resolving a customer complaint. But life happens, and it takes longer than expected.
    Do not expect the customer to wait it out – talk to them. Give them regular updates instead of simply disappearing – a sure way to end up with even more complaints. 
  1. How about being even more proactive, and answering customers’ questions before they even ask them? One way of doing this is a FAQ section on your website. 
  1. Don’t just talk for the sake of talking. Your information needs to be accurate, especially if you are making promises. Do what you say you are going to do, when you said you were going to do it.
  1. Communicate honestly. If you don’t know how to answer a customer’s query, rather tell them that and commit to finding the answer for them as soon as possible. 
  1. Always remember that listening is as important as talking. Be attentive and care about what your customer is saying.


It has been said that communication is the lifeline of any relationship. This is true for business as well, as your main focus is building a relationship with your customers. 

A healthy relationship will see them becoming loyal to you, and see your business go from strength to strength.

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