Thursday, 29 July 2010

"Dear Valued Customer"

I recently saw a letter from a large financial services organisation to one of their High Net Worth personal and corporate clients which started with "Dear Valued Customer".

With three words, this organisation managed to show the customer concerned that he wasn't really "valued" at all but simply part of an amorphous group of faceless individuals.

The letter was correctly addressed to the customer by name at the top, so why couldn't they use it after "Dear"? They have enough cash and technology to do a "mail merge" which would result in a letter that at least started with "Dear Mr Smith".

The letter asked for updated information and was accompanied by a two-page questionnaire asking a number of questions to which the organisation already had the answers. For a client of their upper class banking service (I can't use the brand name as this would give away the organisation's identity), this could be more easily addressed with a simple phone call or even a face to face visit. It would certainly make the client feel "valued".

Perhaps the letter had been "approved" by someone in "Head Office" as "suitable", but did it really achieve its purpose (i.e. to gather up to date information on a "valued" client and make them feel "valued")?

One wonders what was going to happen to the questionnaire once returned. Was the information going to be keyed into the "system" and forgotten until the next update, or perhaps used to gather information for a follow-up promotional mailshot? It might well be used for further genuine development of the relationship with the "valued" client.

Whatever happens, one hopes that the organisation gets the information it needs and that it uses it to good effect!


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Brand Damage

I've been hearing a lot of complaints from friends and others about companies not calling them back when they said they would or after a message was left on that company's answering service requesting a callback. What does this do?

The main damage is to the company's (or individual's) brand. Your company's or your own personal brand is something over which you exercise enormous control both by commission and omission. Most, unfortunately, choose the latter without realising the enormous damage it can do. "They'll understand" or "They shouldn't get so wound up if I miss" seems to be the attitude. People are so busy chasing new business, attending meetings or getting bogged down in administration that they forget to maintain existing revenue streams and wonder why they have to work so hard getting new business because they're loosing the existing client base!

It's all about expectations. If you say you'll do something, people expect you to do it. They don't expect to have to chase you up and get irritated when they have to do so. I now get (pleasantly) surprised if someone calls me back without me having to chase. Why?

What do people assume if you don't keep your promises? Basically, that you're unprofessional or unreliable. Is this the sort of person/company with whom or which you would deal? Of course not.

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