The rollercoaster of emotions your communications bring


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When the postman drops off the mail, I get excited about the arrival of checks, greeting cards from friends and, once in a while, fun packages from Amazon. But there’s one item I dread receiving: the annual insurance “renewal” mailing.

The big thud of the insurance renewal packet on my table makes me dread opening it. I know I have to read it, I know I need to be aware, I know I have to pay. The enclosed letter invariably begins with “Dear Policyholder.” Ah, the personal touch reserved for long time customers like me. The rest of the packet is filled with jargon and legalese and is mostly confusing.

The last insurance company mailing I received sat in a pile for at least 2 or 3 days before I gave in and opened it. (This, from someone who usually opens things right away to avoid clutter.)

One year, I tried to read the crazy policy renewal document in its entirety I felt as if I needed a law degree with a minor in Latin to understand it. (There is some odd stuff in there. For example, did you know your insurance doesn’t cover you when you have damage due to civil war or war – declared or undeclared It really says that). The problem with such communications, riddled with footnotes, subsections and technical terms, is that it inspires dread or fear in your customer. The people you’re trying to win over may feel dumb, intimidated, annoyed.

  • Every piece of communication with a customer needs to be thought about from their perspective (invoices, newsletters, notices, birthday cards). Is it as clear as it can be? Do they know how to reach you if they have questions?
  • Think about your communication plan, your customer retention plan, and your marketing. They all need to be coordinated so customers aren’t overwhelmed with too many contacts and the plans need to be clear and useful so they help customers. (Otherwise why would they buy from you?).
  • Think about your language. Many companies end up using industry jargon instead of customer language. Yes, that’s true of insurance and banking, but also many other industries, too.
  • Think about the emotions your customers have when they receive and/or read your communications. Any kind of customer – B2C or B2B –wants to feel like more than a cog in your machine. Ask yourself: how does the customer feel when they get your communication?

Example: Here’s some jargon from the insurance company letter I received:

“The premium charge shown on your renewal policy reflects an increase in our Automobile Insurance rates. Our rates are reviewed periodically and adjustments are made only when deemed necessary to meet future obligations. Rate adjustments are based on previous loss experience, anticipated futures losses and expected increases in costs.”

I’m confused. Is this telling me I’m a high risk person even though I get the safe driver discount. Is this saying they have higher costs so they have to pass them on to me? Or that more accidents are happening and I have to deal with it? I appreciate the insurance company’s attempt to explain why the increase happened, but more specifics would be better than this vague statement.

Of course, you won’t generate happiness from your invoices and other notices you send out to customers. But you can help customers feel competent, confident, and reassured by the way you structure those communications. And you can use them to show that you understand and care about their welfare.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kim Proctor
Kim has a passion for improving the customer experience and loves the online space. Having spent most of her career on the web, Kim is a consultant that knows how to grow web traffic, leverage social media and grow deeper customer relationships. She has consulted for a wide range of companies from small business to the Fortune 500. For more info, see


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