Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I've come across several business in the past few weeks who are literally costing themselves money due to poorly considered written communications.
The worst offender was a conveyancer (legal representative who helps in the transfer of title when you buy a house). They charge a fixed fee for their conveyancing service, so it's in their interest to speak to their clients as few times as possible during the process. Calls to them represents time, and they don't charge by the call or their time. Yet every written letter and email from the conveyancer was extremely unclear. It didn't outline what we needed to do, or what would happen next. So I always had to call or email to check.
None of the answers were something that couldn't have been provided BEFORE I had to ask by including a "step by step" guide or an FAQ. Each one of those 8-9 calls or emails represented time wasted for that company.
So how can you avoid this?
It's not that you never want to talk to clients or prospects, it's that you only want to talk to them if you have to - otherwise you're wasting their time too. The best way to "sanity check" your existing communications (website, email, standard letter) for clarity is to have someone that knows NOTHING about your field, or your business. Any questions they ask, any difficulty they have in understanding, will be a question someone else will have - so build it into your communications before they have to ask.
When I worked with Flexicar, which had thousands of members but a VERY small team, we had to take every opportunity to better educate "members" so that they wouldn't need to call unless absolutely necessary. One little initiative was instituting an Invoice FAQ and a "How to understand your invoice" video. These two things cut calls to the accounts person in HALF.
So, just to take my own advice, here are the clear steps to checking your written communications aren't costing your business money:
1. Identify a list of "public" written communications for new or existing customers (website, letters, invoices, statements, presentations, etc).
2. Have someone OUTSIDE your industry or business read them and note their questions. Or for a month, make a note of any questions you get asked by customers or prospects.
3. Make adjustments to these existing comms or create NEW comms to address the questions.
4. Track for improvements (reduced call volumes, for example).
5. Go and spend the time you save on other marketing initiatives!