Customer Communication: Is Yours Bland, ‘Bullsh*t’ Or Brilliant?


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The way you communicate with your customers says a lot about you and your business. From simple things to ‘Dear Sir Or Madam’ (what do you mean, you can’t tell?) or ‘Dear Valued Customer’ (so valued that you don’t know my name?), through to Would you like any help with your packing?’ (No, I think I’ll manage this single pint of milk on my own thanks), it all does one of two things…. acts positively or negatively.

Our research suggests that 3D Businesses consciously establish what they want to say, who to, and crucially HOW they say it. Some businesses do it very well, others don’t!

Here are 5 examples that highlight this and provide you with some questions to help you identify how your business measures up….

Corporate Bullsh*t From Mondelez….

Mondelez are the huge conglomerate that provide us with the likes of Dairy Milk, Creme Eggs and Toblerone, and Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times highlighted in her recent column (always worth a read by the way) that with the announcement that their head of marketing was moving on, they provided us with this:

“Our search for a successor will focus on finding a digital-first, disruptive and innovative leader who can build on Dana’s legacy and mobilise breakthrough marketing in a rapidly changing global consumer landscape.”

Let me just say it again, this is from a traditional business that sells things like Liquorice Allsorts and Fry’s Chocolate Cream!!!! Why couldn’t they just say that we’re looking for a new Head Of Marketing to help us sell more? OK, it might not need to be that simple,  but “a digital-first, disruptive and innovative leader” – what does that actually mean?

Question: What does your ‘corporate communication’ say to your customers and prospects about your business?

Review your website, your marketing materials, and also the things you and your people say when they are ‘out there’ with customers and prospects…..

I’m Just A….

It never fails to amaze me when you hear people who are asked what they do they completely undersell who they are and what they do. I was at a ‘networking do’ last week and got chatting to someone who, when I asked what they did, they replied “I’m just an accountant ……” (He was from a quite well known business, but I’d better not name the firm!) How completely underwhelming – if you’re not bothered about it mate why on earth should I be?

I’m not suggesting that people should come up with some super whizzy motivational ‘pitch statement’ that sounds like they’ve worked at Mondelez, but at least say something that engages me!

Question: How do you and your people introduce and ‘sell’ your business when they are ‘out there’?

It’s online as well as offline too…

 ‘Linking Out’ On Linked In….

Linked In can be a brilliant way to ‘connect’ with other people and can be a great opportunity to ‘differentiate’ yourself and your business….. unless you use all their ‘standard’ messages to do it. When you do that, you’re simply ‘one of many’ and it’s scary how so many people give the impression that they are just ‘ticking the boxes’ whether it’s requests to ‘Link In’, responding to a request or congratulating someone on their work anniversary.

Next time someone sends you a request why not respond with something like…

“Hello X – Great to hear from you and thanks for ‘connecting’. Looking forward to ‘Linking In’ with you and hopefully meeting with you in the ‘real world’! (if it’s appropriate that is) Best Wishes, XXX

Go on… ‘Personalise’ it, get your ‘personality’ across, demonstrate who you are – ‘connect’ with people!

Question: What are your ‘standard responses’ like – Do they ‘Demonstrate’ your ‘Difference’?

What about when you’re not there…

‘Out Of The Office’ Can Say A Lot Too….

I encourage my clients to ensure that all their ‘interaction’ with customers reinforces them and their personality and a starting point can be your ‘out of office’ email response. Rather than the bland automated statement, why not maximise the opportunity to be different? A great example comes a client of ours Dave Richards of Glue who is currently on one of our leadership programmes. We’d been discussing this and as he was going on holiday Dave decided to ‘take action’ – This is what his ‘out of office message’ looked like:

It’s a lovely example of ‘personalising’ his message to reinforce his personality and the good news is that Dave got some great feedback from customers too – in other words, they noticed it!

Question: How can you get your ‘personality’ across in your day to day communications?

And Finally…

It Works For Individual As Well As Company Personalities

Sometimes communication comes the other way and here’s a great example of an individual who definitely communicated her ‘personality’ in her resignation letter! 60 year old Marlene McGrory’s quit her cleaning job recently with this very personal note…

So, is your communication ‘Bland, Bullsh*t or Brilliant? Take some time out to answer these questions, and then, as ever, take some ACTION to ensure it’s ‘Brilliant’!

Those Questions:

  • How do you and your business measure up?
  • What ‘messages’ are you sending to people?
  • What ‘messages’ do you WANT to send?

You might want to consider ALL aspects of your communication: website, promotional materials, mailshots, emails, telephone answering, out of office telephone messages, out of office emails, your social media, your quotes and proposals, your invoicing, your mobile phone message…. your personal interactions!

To help you, we have put together a very simple 3D Toolkit called ‘Stand In Your Own Queues’ and it’s a simple step by step process to review your approach – you can download it by clicking on the image.

Please do not hesitate to let us know what works for you – we can all learn from each other!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


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