The 4 no-brainer customer messages that every company should be sending out
Having worked within the marketing departments of various big organisations, there are some categories of customer communications that are the mainstay of their customer marketing departments. Here are the four types of message that I think every small to medium sized company should be sending out as standard.
Particularly for high ticket products and services, this is your chance to nip any ‘buyers’ remorse’ in the bud. Remind them of why they bought your product/ service, what problems their purchase is going to solve for them and, if appropriate, why this is a great value solution. What are the FAQ’s people ask when they first use your service or buy your product? Covering these off before they have a chance to become a problem will show that you’re proactively trying to help them and it can ease the impact on your customer services team if you have one (or your inbox if you don’t!)
Any tips that will improve your customer’s experience of your product/ service should go into your welcome message. Making sure they have all the info they need to get the best out of your service or product will mean that they enjoy it all the more!
I used to work for an internet provider, back in the days of dial-up. For the customer to set up all the equipment and their new online account on their own was problematic. The process was costing the company a huge amount of money in lost customers and lengthy inbound calls to tech support. Our solution was to put together a comprehensive set of ‘welcome’ communications. All new customers received four emails, a pack of information through the post and a phone call. These communications were all thoroughly researched and tested before rolling out. As a result we were able to resolve 72% of new joiner problems, significantly reducing the amount of cancellations among new customers.
Of course, welcoming a new customer could be as easy as one single email. If I had just started with a new graphic designer I would be very pleased to receive an email saying something along the lines of ‘Thanks so much for choosing us. Here are some tips to get the most out of our service…’ with advice on what would be the best graphics format to send them, what their lead times are and who to contact if I have any questions.
2. Cyclical messages
This is where mail management services like Mailchimp and ConvertKit come into their own. With your customer’s permission, sending them reminders and freebies that are triggered by preprogrammed dates is a great way to increase sales and win some customer service brownie points. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing;
- Anniversary communications- Is the purchase or service a yearly thing? For example, a bouncy castle hired for a child’s birthday. They might want another bouncy castle the following year. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
- Contract renewal- If someone has signed up for a fixed term contract or subscription, how you manage the renewal process is key to getting your customers either resigned or even upgraded to a premium product. If they ask to cancel, let them go with good grace and ask them for some feedback. (N.B. I’ll cover off the meaty subject of how to retain customers at the point of cancellation at a later date)
- Trial periods- Okay this isn’t cyclical as such, but it is another area to carefully plan. How you treat a customer at the end of a trial period can make or break the relationship. Personally, I hate it when I sign up to a trial period and they quietly roll you on to the paid option without telling you. Yes it was in the ts & cs I signed, but it still irks me. However, I do know that alerting people to the end of trial periods will mean a lot of people cancelling before they’ve paid you any money. There’s a careful balance to be struck. Make sure your process aligns with your company values and that all terms and conditions are as clear as possible for customers.
- Birthday present- You could note the customer’s own birthday and send them a freebie or a discount. I get a voucher every year from Boden on my birthday. It prompts me to treat myself and I feel like they value my custom. I love Boden.
- Worldwide seasonal dates- instead of mindlessly sending Christmas cards (or emails) to your customers, have a think about other yearly events that might resonate with them and your products and services. Do they particularly look forward to bank holidays? Certain conferences? Events like London Fashion week or the new series of Bake Off? A ski shop might want to email customers a month or so before the new ski season starts. A greengrocer might want to tell his customers that the strawberries have come in just in time for Wimbledon. A fancy dress shop might want to let his customers know that they have just received a consignment of eye patches read for ‘talk like a pirate day’. Be imaginative!
3. Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback is something you should do throughout the customer’s time with you. For instance;
- Just after buying a product- is there anything you can do to help them with? Answers at this stage can feed into your welcome process.
- As they’re unsubscribing- I’ve seen a lot of surveys that ask you why you’re unsubscribing from their email list. Word your options carefully and you can use this simple tool to spot trends and adjust your regular communications accordingly.
- After they’ve cancelled or stopped buying your product- Again, this feedback is gold. You may not like hearing people complain about your company, but asking every single person that stops using your service why they stopped will give you valuable intelligence that can help you improve what you’re offering.
- At any other point you can think of! Social media is a great tool for keeping the channels of communication open. Check in regularly to see what customers are saying about you. Also, if you’re trying to decide about a certain aspect of your product or service, asking customers for their advice is probably the best way to get engagement online. Algorhythms love engagement!
- If you’re asking for a review, tell them to do so on third party review sites or your social media platforms. Quotes on your website are better than nothing, but people will trust testimonials far more if the platform is not hosted by you.
If you need any more encouragement to ask for regular feedback I’ll tell you this; giving your customers as many opportunities as possible to air their concerns with you directly will reduce the need for them to hop on the nearest social media site and slate you. Be proactive, get the feedback, both good and bad, and deal with it.
A coach I am working with always sends a weekly ‘checking in’ message to offer encouragement and support to her clients. Our calls are on Monday mornings and I’d been receiving her support message on a Friday, when my working week was over and I had no more working time to get back to her before the next coaching call. Did I tell her that it was an inconvenient time for me? No. Partly because it wasn’t stipulated as a core part of the service and partly because customers will not give you any unsolicited feedback unless you really p*ss them off. On our Monday call this week she said ‘Is there a better time for me to check in with you?’ Hurray! We changed it to a Thursday morning, when I’ve still got a good deal of working time left. I feel like she has understood me and wants to give me the best service possible. I’m more likely to recommend her to friends as a result.
4. Email or call to follow up on a quote
This is the ultimate no brainer. I can think of dozens of examples where I’ve asked for and received a quote, but the company in question never follows up on it and I never heard from them again. This is a complete wasted opportunity on several fronts;
- You might jog the client’s mind that the job needs to be done
- They might have lost the quote! Yes, this happens with emails too.
- Asking if they’re happy with the quote and ready to proceed is essentially another ‘customer touchpoint’. If they like what they hear, they’ll be more likely to go with you than with someone they feel they don’t know as well.
- If they have decided to go with someone else, you can find out why. This might be a really useful piece of insight! At the very least, you might be able to find out what your competitors charge for the same job.
If you find that you forget to chase up on quotes, then get a system. Start a list in excel and note some dates down of when you issued the quote, how much for and who to. Too many quotes to follow up on? Prioritise the most lucrative ones. Still too busy? Then either don’t quote in the first place and say that you’re too in demand (oo, alluring…) or put your prices up!
I recently asked for some quotes from some local printers for some training packs. One printer said they were going to get back to me with a quote, but never did(!). Two printers got back to me with very thorough and professional looking quotes that exactly stipulated what I could expect. The final quote came through as a 2 line email response with no details. The very sketchy quote was actually the cheapest, but it noted that the figures were ‘approximate’ and with no specific detail, it makes me think that the final job could be more expensive and I’m left doubting whether the final job would look professional.
Have I inspired you to think more creatively about how and when you speak to your customers? Or have you already thought of a dozen different reasons why they won’t work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Connect with me on LinkedIn and give me your feedback.