Monday, December 12, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: That's Not My Name

This was posted in a private group today by one of my colleagues who is also a seller of handmade goods:
Am I wrong for being offended that a seller sent me an email starting with "Dear Customer?" A "Hey there" and no name would be OK, or look at my paypal and use my name. But don't use "customer" as my name.
Short answer, NO.  You are NEVER wrong for being offended by something as impersonal as that.  One of the reasons people shop handmade and small businesses is to get that small-town, everyone-gets-personal-attention feeling.  Part of that feeling comes from the customer service that the vendor offers.

But, just for a minute, let's say you're an individual shop owner who receives HUNDREDS of orders a day.  Maybe one of your suppliers didn't come through and you need to notify a large number of customers.  In this case, you may choose to send out a blanket message.**  There are ways to do this without making your customers feel like they've been hit by a spambot:
  • Instead of saying 'Dear Customers' say something like 'Happy Holidays,' or 'Hi there!'
  • Admit that your message is a blanket e-mail, and of course, bcc all your recipients - never allow
    anyone to see contact information for other customers!
    You could say, "I am sending out a blanket e-mail to  (who you're targeting) everyone who ordered after the 15th because (why you are contacting them) ACME glue factory blew up and it will be a week before I can obtain supplies from another supplier.  (What options they have) All orders will be delayed one week unless I am notified before end of business on the 20th that you wish to cancel.   
NEVER USE BLANKET E-MAILS FOR ANY TYPE OF MARKETING!  If you want to notify your customers of sales or offers, set up a mailing list that they must opt into.  Don't know how?  No worries, luckily there's this handy new gizmo called out there.

However, if you are sending an individual e-mail to a single customer about their order, then for pity's sake, take the time to look at the invoice and the PayPal and find out what their name is.  If you're totally unwilling or unable to do that, or if their contact information is inconsistent, then at least try a "Hi there!"

Little things like this really matter.  What takes 90 seconds for you could end up making your customer feel insignificant.  A feeling which is likely to result in the loss of that customer and perhaps all of his/her friends.

If you're a small business, what do YOU do to give a personal touch to your customer service?  What has a company done well that has stuck with you?  I'd love to have some of you post comments here on the blog so that my Google+ friends and Facebook pals can meet each other - you guys are ALL so cool.  

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  1. I have worked in customer service more on than off for the past 20 years. When replying to or writing an email to a customer I always start with their name. When I'm on the phone with a customer I always write down their name to say it throughout the conversation. I appreciate receiving positive feedback at my "day" job and through my own shoppe. I talk to my customers how I wish to be treated when I need assistance in some way.

  2. That is awesome. I even do that with my customer service reps! I figure they have difficult jobs and appreciate the personal touch from customers too. Of COURSE I treat my customers as well.