There are plenty of reasons why you communicate (or should communicate) with your customers.
This communication could be a traditional point-in-time statement, or informative letter of some kind. Whether delivered physically by mail, digitally on the web, or by email, through social media, an app, or even an SMS or phone call, you want to make sure that your customer doesn’t miss the most IMPORTANT INFORMATION.
Regardless of the method of delivery, communications can be broken down into four primary levels of importance:
- Nice to Know
- Could Know
- Should Know
- Must Know
If it was my job to teach you a fire drill, what would be the Must Know information?
Where the EXIT is would probably be at the top of the list. The fact that the chair you’re sitting on won’t burn for the first two hours of the fire might be Nice to Know but it’s far from essential information, as you won’t be there to find out!
Usually customer communications that fall into Should Know and Must Know, are classified as Essential Customer Communications because they HAVE TO happen, HAVE TO be read, are typically regular and often are regulatory in nature.
When delivering effective Essential Customer Communications, there are three key components to keep in mind about the communication itself; Knowledge, Message and Method.
The Knowledge you have about your customer is key to ensuring relevancy. The contextualised data and information you have needs to be used to ensure that you are targeting your customer with the right message.
Nothing will cause a customer to ignore a message more than if they think it’s irrelevant. By using what you know about your customer, they need to perceive it as something that is important for them to consume.
Addressing them by the correct name is a fairly important start, but using the knowledge you have about them specifically and the products or services they have and use (and don’t have have and don’t use) to GRABBING and KEEPING their attention.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind when communicating with your customers is to ensure that the purpose of the Message is correct and maintained. I have seen too many examples from too many organisations where they try to enhance their informational messages with promotional content that only ends up diluting the purpose of their key message.
- If the purpose is Promotional, go for it, let it look promotional and trust that the knowledge you have and use about your customer will drive relevancy and that they will understand why you have sent it to them.
- If the purpose is Educational, make sure they want to read it. That it is clear what they will gain by reading, watching or listening to it. Equally important is to let them know what they will miss out on if they don’t consume it.
- Finally, if the purpose is Informational (especially if they Should Know or Must Know), then make sure that you don’t bury the essential information in copy. Avoid making it look the promotional, because if you do, you risk the customer dismissing it as non-essential...or it might end up in the round filing cabinet in the corner (i.e. the bin) or the Trash folder very quickly.
This is where everything comes together. Part of the Method is making sure you use the right language to convey your message.
Think about your tone. Does it need to be passive, active, or assertive?
And the method and medium of delivery of your messages is also critical.
What format will give your communication the highest likelihood of being received and consumed?
Many companies fall into the trap of communicating the way that is easiest for them, this may be a mistake. For example, if you tend to send wordy emails and your customer would prefer a concise SMS you might struggle to get your message across.
When you have essential communications to convey, you might consider offering your customers multiple channels to choose from to ensure your message gets through. This may include email, SMS, through a web site or portal, the phone or even snail mail.
If email is part of the equation for delivering this essential communication, how are you making sure that it actually gets delivered?
I’ve previously written about the recent Return Path Deliverability Benchmark report that shows a lot of the world has email delivery sitting around 80%. Of course, everyone aims for 100% deliverability, but the reality is far from that, with even the more developed countries sitting between 80 and 90%.
What is the cost to your business for the delays and additional time, money and effort involved in re-creating and re-sending up to 20% of your email communications by another method after the fact?
If you want 100% deliverability, then you need to choose the right, specialist email delivery platform to make sure your essential customer communications are delivered. Ensure the messages you send to your customers are effective:
- by being based on knowledge you have about your customer
- that the purpose of the message is correct
- that the method you choose to communicate with is appropriate and is actually delivered
If any of these areas are concerns of yours, please reach out and let’s have a conversation about how we can help you get the right message, to the right person, right now.