How better communication will help you keep pace with customers in 2022


Are your customers purchasing the same products and services – and purchasing them in the same way – as they did two or three years ago? Or have their preferences and habits changed?

For scores of businesses, it’s the latter. Australian consumers are researching, buying and consuming goods and services quite differently than they did BC – Before COVID.

For starters, we’ve seen a massive uptick in eCommerce, with consumers across all demographics eschewing shopping malls and high streets, in favour of letting their fingers do the walking. Our collective online shopping bill soared to $52.24 billion in the 12 months to October 2021, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index: October 2021. Two years prior, that figure sat at $29.84 billion.

Spending differently

Not only are we spending more online, we’re buying different things than we did in the pre-pandemic era. An article published by McKinsey & Company in May 2020 noted that Australians were applying a more socially conscious lens to their purchases; often patronising local businesses and producers, even if their offerings were more expensive. Making healthier and more considered buying decisions were also common themes.

So, how can businesses keep abreast of customers’ changing preferences and respond with products and services that pre-empt and meet their needs? Here are three communication strategies that can help you stay in the swing this year.

Talk to your customers on social

In days of yore, focus groups and surveys were the only options available to companies that wanted to get a handle on how their customers were thinking and feeling. These days, there’s a far superior option, right there for the tapping: social media. It’s where you’ll hear and read the good, the bad and the ugly about businesses and brands, more often than not in excruciating, intricate detail.

But the insights that may help you enhance your offering won’t necessarily be there for the plucking. Instead, you’ll need to work hard to generate comments and conversations around your posts, by participating proactively in the online community. That means weighing in on discussions, responding to the posts of others and, when you receive them, replying to comments on your own posts, personally and politely.

Talk amongst yourselves: Dialling up the dialogue between departments 

Eliminating siloes and promoting open dialogue between departments and teams has been a common aspiration for large businesses in recent years. Many have yet to make significant headway and it’s to their detriment.

Why? Because, very often, the ideas and initiatives that can help you to make your product and service offerings more compelling for customers won’t necessarily come from outside your organisation. Your colleagues in the human resources, logistics, finance and sales divisions will very likely have valuable insights that can help your department do things smarter, faster or better. Use interdepartmental collaboration platforms and programs to open up the channels of communication and they’ll be able to share them. 

Learn to listen – properly

And when they do, open your ears and listen attentively. As author and motivational speaker Stephen Covey of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame put it, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Resolve not to be one of them, by making active listening a priority, and the business intelligence and insights you can use to stay abreast with, and ahead of, customer demand will find their way to you, via a multiplicity of means.

Starting strong

Australia’s economy continues to bounce back from COVID and the upcoming year will not be short of opportunities for local businesses that know how to keep the customer satisfied. Tune in to their needs and wants and your enterprise stands a good chance of being among their number.