That’s the first line of an e-mail I just got from a brand for whom I had once participated in some user research. You would think that they’d have kept enough of my personal information on file to at least have merged my name into the greeting. Yet, the terse note that follows tells me more than I need to know about that company’s intentions.
Assuming nothing but positive intent, someone in that organization really does want some help making decisions about future products. But that person ended up in a meeting where I guarantee that someone uttered at least one of these phrases:
- “Marketing runs all of our customer communication, so if you want to reach out to people, you’ll have to use this bare-bones tool yourself without any guidance.”
- “We have so many people on our list, it doesn’t matter if we don’t spend much time on our message. Just hearing back from a tiny fraction of this list will give us the information we need.”
- “Our customers love us. Just send out the link to your survey and they’ll jump at the chance to share their ideas. It doesn’t matter how you ask.”
That’s how I ended up with a weird, little survey request in my inbox. As a customer, it makes me feel like just one more plastic head on an assembly line. If that company thinks this way about me now, how can I possibly trust them to act on my feedback? Their content strategy lacked an essential personal touch.
With only a little more effort, they could have pulled some information from my file, customized the message, and given me a strong incentive to invest a few minutes into a quick survey or a feedback session. I would have felt a stronger bond to the company, incentivized to promote them to my friends and family.
Robert Rose calls this “customer centricity.” It’s a competency shared by the world’s best organizations: the ability to look past an institutional org chart and focus on solving problems for real people. It’s the courage to overcome the fear of “looking bad” by asking for help — like hiring a customer experience consultant. It’s the humility to remember that your company exists to serve customers, not the other way around.
Putting your customer first means exploring the impact that your company’s words and actions make over time. Stop assuming that members of your mailing list won’t hold you accountable for all of the communications they receive from your organization, not just those from your department. Start exploring how you’re going to develop stories and images that add value for your audience over time. Make every message from your organization as welcome and as anticipated as an episode of your audience’s favorite television series. And, if you don’t know how to do that yet, press pause and get help from a user experience consultant or a CX consulting firm.
[Original photo by Dennis Yang, adapted under Creative Commons license.]