Refreshing your customer messaging strategy – and linking it to data

2018 for me is all about increasing customer engagement. Understanding what matters to customers and why they use our products, what turns them “on” & “off”, why they behave in particular ways – it’s all so much more scientific than it used to be! Every customer experience professional worth their salt is driving a data-driven decision approach, and balancing the need for more data with the risk of overwhelming customers with requests for feedback is a fine line.

As with most marketing innovations, there a degree of skill involved in nailing your messaging strategy, but there’s also a degree of luck and gut feel. With a new product, especially where you need to guide the customer to achieve greater engagement, your messaging strategy is key. Here’s 5 simple points that you need to consider for your customer messaging strategy.

1. Purpose – this needs to be linked to the customer journey, with a goal to drive customer to the next stage of your customer journey. What action are you trying to drive with the communication? Is it explicitly clear for the receiver? Is it simply notifying them of an action with no follow up required? Is the communication really required? Could it be combined with another message? Question to ask yourself: will this communication distract the customer from progressing through the customer journey or nurture them?
2.Triggers – messages can be extremely effective when linked to event or trigger, which leads to a tangible outcome. Someone clicking a request for more information is clearly interested in your product, so the correct response should inform and engage further. In particular where you want to elicit a response, the preceding event outcome should drive the message timing, content and medium.
3. Medium – I’ve observed some businesses who routinely call customers, then always follow up with an email. Ask yourself what the most effective medium is and whether it needs confirmation with another. Some products are well suited to email, but consider where that email might be read – laptop, desktop, tablet, mobile? Check the rendering for all appropriate devices!
4. Audience – make sure it’s targeted, especially for automated messages. No-one wants to receive a chaser to pay a bill when they manually paid it a few days in advance. Make sure it’s personalised as much as possible, and never signed off by a generic entity, such as “The Team” or “Customer Service”. Templates can work perfectly well, but there will always be the need for customer facing teams to write messages, so make sure they are competent – no jargon, grammar and spelling, tone of voice, etc.
5. Frequency & Timing – wisdom suggests that early life (prospect) customers should receive no more than three unsolicited emails per day, whilst active / inactive customer (post adoption) should receive no more than one unsolicited email per day. No-one likes spam, so aligning with other functions to stick to these guidelines and avoid the embarrassment of multiple communications from different functions on the same day. Timing is key, too, related to triggers (see point above). For B2C and service related industries, aim for <4 hour initial response within the business day, and avoid emailing or calling at anti-social hours where possible.
When was the last time you reviewed your messaging strategy? How well connected up is your messaging with other departments who communicate to customers? And finally, are all your messages measurable for their successful impact? Make sure that your customer messaging strategy is fit for purpose and data-driven to maximise your customer engagement.

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