Customer communications in big businesses
I’ve spent most of my early career carefully crafting customer communications and marketing (letters, emails, website member centre content, direct mail packs and phone call scripts). As I moved on to different companies, I saw the same types of communications repeated again and again. Why? Because they work!
Customer communications in SMEs
I’ve noticed that even the simplest of customer messages usually aren’t being sent in small to medium sized companies (SMEs). I get it; smaller businesses can lack the time and resource to set these things up, but I assure you it is worth the effort!
At this point I could tell you about about how these communications will improve customer retention, provide opportunity for greater profits and improve your company’s reputation and word of mouth referrals but instead I’m going to tell you a story.
Ruby, Frankie and their strawberry plants
Once upon a time there were two sisters, Ruby and Frankie, who lived with their families on the same road. Early one summer they decided to invest in strawberry plants since they were both family favourites and they can be a bit pricey when shop-bought. So they hopped into Ruby’s car together and went to their local garden centre. The both took their time selecting a healthy, strong looking plant, paid for them with their hard earned cash and drove them carefully home.
Ruby got back to find her family about to go to the seaside so she put the plant outside the backdoor and headed out with them. Frankie also found her family all packed up and ready to go to the beach, but she told them to wait while she planted the strawberry plant. She had already cleared a spot for it so it only took 10 minutes. Enough time to give it a thorough watering too.
Looking after strawberry plants
They all had a lovely day out, the next day was back to work and thoughts of those fresh strawberries went out of Ruby’s mind. However, Frankie carried on watering it daily and gave it plant food as per instructions from the garden centre. She protected the plant from bad weather and pests. She made sure she gave it what it needed to thrive. Of course when the time came she had a wonderful crop of strawberries. Meanwhile Ruby’s strawberry plant withered in the dark corner of her garden, still in its original pot. It received sporadic watering but that was all. The result? One or two small, nut-like strawberries and the waste of the money it cost her to buy the plant.
Here comes the twist… I’m using the strawberry plant to represent your customers. I bet you didn’t see that one coming!
You’ve spent time and probably money on getting your customers to buy from you. Don’t stick them in a dark corner and forget about them. You may get a bit of revenue out of them, but if you don’t treat them properly, communicate with them, help them use your products/ services, protect them from any threats (I’m thinking data protection here) and nurture them, then you will be wasting your investment.
The power of speech
And that’s not all. The amazing thing about customers is that they can speak. STOP THE PRESS. If you ask them the right questions, they will tell you what they need and when they need it, and they will even love you for asking. They’re better than Tamagotchi!