Customer service in the UK has become a vicious circle of frustration for consumers, brands and the middle-men of marketing services alike.

In fact, it’s not just a problem for the Brits, things aren’t much better back home in Australia. The issue has now extended way beyond store walls thanks to the multichannel shopping environment we live in today.

As I’ll explain in this post, closing the gap between smooth sales processes and customer satisfaction starts with targeted and relevant communications.

Consumers expect a lot of brands (maybe too much, if we step back for a moment and examine our demands logically), and the constant innovation this requires inevitably leads to some disappointing outcomes in the rush to satisfy people.

Those of us in the middle, providing support and expertise to marketing departments, are here to interpret the requirements from this festering but oh-so-valuable mass of consumerism and translate that message to help brand owners understand their next step.

A common problem is people’s belief in buzzwords that seem to describe some sort of communications holy grail, but more often than not mean little or nothing.

For example, we’d all love to be able to ‘close the loop’ between consumers and brands. But before we do that, we’d better define what we mean! And just as importantly, what does this mean to consumers?

A lot of organisations talk about closing the loop, but few truly understand the execution or value behind that, or how it works across multiple channels.

We need to be able to narrow down the communications process to target each consumer as an individual, using multidimensional insight so we can continuously engage with them one-to-one.

Consumers want marketers to follow this simple maxim: “Don’t pretend to know me if I’ve never met you. If you want to talk to me, tell me something I want to hear.” In other words, close the communications loop to narrow the gaps in your marketing and make me feel engaged by your brand – don’t just use it as a lasso to reel me in.

Customer satisfaction is key in all of this. Getting service right across all channels is becoming increasingly important as brands fight for share of pocket via multiple interfaces, be that in-store, online, mobile shopping or whatever retailers think of next.

How do we spot the difference between someone who only buys on the high-street and someone who responds to a cold email or buys through mail-order? And how should marketers react accordingly – which channels should we use, and how do we get the message and delivery right?

In my next few blogs I’ll take a channel in turn to examine current models and suggest how their role in the engagement process can be improved. As people who know that organisations rolling out poorly devised campaigns should know better, or recognise examples of good practice, it’d be interesting to hear your views on customer service and contact you’ve had from brands.

Ultimately, the common goal of marketers and consumers is to understand that there will always be tension in the relationship between buyer and seller, but to enjoy a balance of power that allows everyone to get the deal that suits them.

Using the loop to tighten communications instead of fashioning a rope to hang your brand with is a good starting point.