Integration of technology systems is by far the greatest challenge. ~ Communications survey respondent

The ways we communicate with our clients and constituent groups is changing. As electronic technology options for getting our messages across emerge, they bring speed and automation, along with the need for a different set of tools and skills to manage processes. How are you communicating now? What do you find most effective?  Your responses to last month’s survey follow.

After reviewing these results, be sure to visit the PBA Resource Spotlight for helpful tips and resources to support you in managing your communications challenges.

Many thanks to all who participated in the August 2012 PBA poll on Communications. Here is what you said:

More than half of survey respondents (51.9%) use the telephone as their primary communications method. It is significant to find that 38.5% of participants are using text messaging as a first choice. Almost a third of respondents (30.8%) cite email as most often used and 50% indicate they frequently use it; however, analysis of communications methods used ‘most often’ and ‘frequently’ show a combined total answer rate of 80.8% for email, followed by telephone at 74.1% and text message at 61.6%. Respondents indicate they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ use Video Chat (92%) or fax (76%).
What are your methods of communication with your constituents and customers? Please indicate how frequently you utilize these communication vehicles.
Answer Options Most Often Frequently Sometimes Rarely Never
Email 30.8% 50% 15.4% 3.8% 0.0%
Mail 8.3% 25% 25% 29.2% 12.5%
Telephone 51.9% 22.2% 22.2% 3.7% 0.0%
Text Message 38.5% 23.1% 3.8% 19.2% 15.4%
Virtual Meeting 0.0% 4% 32% 12% 52%
Video Chat 0.0% 4% 4% 32% 60%
Fax 0.0% 8% 16% 28% 48%

Other: Facebook 7.4% of respondents; In person 3.7% of respondents

The majority of survey respondents (77.8%) communicate based on the constituent’s preferences.
Do you ask customers and constituents their preferred method of communication, and then deliver based on their preferences?
Answer Options Response Percent
Yes 77.8%
No 7.4%
Working on it 14.8%
Not sure 0.0%

Comment from respondent: “I usually just ask them to call me or text me rather than call the Salon.”

A total of 66.6% do not have, or are working on, a published privacy policy pertaining to customer/constituent contact information, while less than one-third (29.6%) indicate they have a policy in place.
Do you have a published privacy policy on how you use customer/constituent contact information?
Answer Options Response Percent
Yes 29.6%
No 40.7%
Working on it 25.9%
Not sure 3.7%
More than half of respondents (58.2%) indicate that they utilize a marketing/communications platform and 29.2% gave this choice the highest effectiveness rating; however, responses (other than ‘don’t use’) most often fell in the ‘it works’ (satisfactory) classification.
What communications tools do you utilize for customer and constituent communications, and how effective are they?
Answer Options Great! It works Neutral A few bugs Hate it Don’t use
Mass email communications platform (i.e. Constant Contact, Mail Chimp) 23.1% 34.6% 15.4% 0.0% 0.0% 26.9%
Marketing/Communications platform (i.e. Demandforce, Vocus, Raven) 29.2% 8.3% 16.7% 4.2% 0.0% 41.7%
Integrated management software tools 7.7% 50.0% 15.4% 0.0% 0.0% 26.9%
Web conferencing (nonvideo) 0.0% 16.7% 16.7% 4.2% 0.0% 62.5%
Video conferencing (i.e. Skype, MegaMeeting) 0.0% 15.4% 19.2% 11.5% 0.0% 53.8%
Texting communications tools 19.2% 26.9% 26.9% 3.8% 0.0% 23.1%
Mobile communications apps 3.8% 23.1% 26.9% 3.8% 0.0% 42.3%
Outlook or other basic email program 3.7% 48.1% 22.2% 3.7% 0.0% 22.2%
Telemarketing/Telecommunications services 0.0% 11.5% 30.8% 3.8% 3.8% 50.0%
Mail house/mailing services 4.0% 24.0% 28.0% 12.0% 0.0% 32.0%
The majority of poll participants (68%) answered that the cost of new technology represents the ‘Greatest’ (28%) or ‘Significant’ (40%) challenge in communications. It is interesting to observe that respondents indicate that privacy and policy issues are ‘Somewhat’ (40%) or ‘Not at all’ (48%) a challenge.
What are your greatest communications challenges? Please indicate below:
Answer Options Greatest Significant Somewhat Not at all
Targeting communications: matching messages with interest 16% 32% 28% 24%
Multichannel communications: communicating in the way the constituent desires 4% 24% 52% 20%
Integrating communications with our data source 16% 24% 28% 32%
Measuring results 16% 28% 36% 20%
Data Integrity: keeping information up to date 12% 32% 32% 24%
Privacy and policy issues 4% 8% 40% 48%
Keeping up with technology 24% 20% 36% 20%
Cost of new technology 28% 40% 20% 12%
Human resources/knowledge 4% 42% 20% 24%
All of the above 16.7% 25% 0% 58.3%

The last question invited respondents to share their general comments on communications challenges and solutions:

I am sure most salons are too small for marketing services @ $40K a year (I was just quoted) but it’s too much for one person to handle. It keeps changing. I am very well trained and I cannot keep up. We aren’t all lucky to find that perfect manager with HR, Social media, salon skills.”

We rely mostly on face to face communication.”

Still looking for solutions.”

Integration of technology systems is by far the greatest challenge. Our Enterprise software “talks” with our DSC automation, our on-line shopping cart, our in-bound telesales and then turn it around and send the data to our marketing automation so our CRM data is correct and up-to-date Everything needs integration!”

In the salon business, most communication is done live, in person. We do not bombard clients with emails or mass mailings, just appointment reminders, so that we do not overstep our boundaries and cause the client to switch off.”

We use [company name] and I am not happy with it for several reasons. Sometimes, our clients confirm via email or text and [company name] shows that they are not confirmed. Also, [company name] cannot confirm any earlier than one day ahead, so on Saturdays we still have to call our clients for the following Tuesday, as we are closed on Monday. When I was buying the product, they told me that the reviews would be posted on Google and City Search, and it takes someone with a Sherlock Holmes personality to find the reviews. They do not come up on the first Google page. What does come up about fifth down is the [company name] page, which is good, but if someone is looking for us on City Search, the reviews are not easy to find.”