Does Your Business Have a Bulletproof Communication Plan?


Today the mailman delivered the usual credit card offers and flyer advertising in the mailbox, but just lately I’ve noticed a few more companies dipping a toe back into snail mail advertising.  In the “old” days, mailboxes overflowed with so much junk direct mail that most of it was thrown away before being opened.  Then along came the popularity of
the worldwide web and the mailbox river of junk quickly moved to annoying popups and spam – the heady lure of all that free advertising.  The internet reduced my hard copy mail from a daily tidal wave to a mere trickle.

Now that popup filters are advanced and there are penalties for unsolicited spamming, it appears that the tide is turning back to regular postal mail (an attempt to save the US Postal system from privatizing?) And what I saw today was a piece from my old insurance company, our local State Farm franchise office. 

We used to have all of our auto (6 cars) and homeowner’s policies with State Farm for many years, but a while ago I moved it all, primarily due to better pricing.  Now after all these years, they are back trying – too little too late – to communicate with me. Seeing their local solicitation advertising made me think about a) the relationship companies have/should have with their good/valued customers and b) what went wrong that they failed to keep my business; what they should have done to safeguard the relationship.

Relationships aren’t limited to just our families, friends, and co-workers.   Those social relationships take care of our mental well-being.  But we also have important relationships with the businesses we choose to frequent, as we trust them with our finances, our safety, often our physical well-being (cars, security systems, etc.).  Those service relationships are also built on trust, the foundation of all good relationships, embodied by the quality of the communication with the people in those businesses. 

While we may not think about businesses when considering the meaningful communications we have, certainly the businesses should be thinking about us – their raison d’être.  And like most relationships gone sour, the reason is usually due to one of two factors, or a combo of the two: 1) taking their eye off the ball, neglect of longtime customers, lack of direct personal communication, taking customer loyalty for granted, or 2) a bad experience, product blowup, poor service, product void. 

In the case of me and State Farm, it was the first factor, which is inexcusable since they are local and could easily have reached out warmly a couple of times a year to safeguard the relationship.  They chose not to, either to save money or because they didn’t deem it necessary.  Rather shortsighted.  If the relationship had been in place, I would have thought twice about moving for price.  You get what you pay for and since I felt like I was getting nothing at the end, I might as well save the money.  It really is that simple: people want to feel like they are special, not invisible, appreciated.

A program to insure (ha! ‘insure’ for a State Farm example!) that every customer feels like a part of the team, when there isn’t a problem, would pay huge loyalty dividends for years.  The bank teller that greets you by name.  The waitress that remembers your favorite order.  The insurance agent that calls you to ask how you’re enjoying the new car.  Or how your ‘away driver’ college student is doing in school.  That direct person touch is so easy to do, and can’t be replaced by an impersonal national firm for any price.

COMMUNICATION TAKEAWAY: Every relationship, personal or business, is susceptible to neglect or being taken for granted, if not safeguarded against.  Bulletproof your important relationships by taking a close look at them and then taking the necessary steps not let them wither away due to inattention.

QUESTION: Which types of businesses could really improve their client communications?  Click to comment

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