Why you need to measure your customer communications

Over time, organisations build up huge libraries of customer communication. New material gets produced. Old material gets adapted (and adapted and adapted). Customer communication has a habit of just growing quietly in the background.

There’s often little strategic direction – material just gets produced to meet tactical needs. Yet, as it grows, it becomes a bigger and bigger problem – outdated content, old compliance standards, cobbled adaptations.

Soon, senior managers lose sight of what’s going out in their name. That’s where a comprehensive customer audit is vital – to define the scale of the problem and stop that weedlike comms growth happening again.

Do you need an communications overhaul?

From our experience, there are usually six tell-tale signs that things are in need of an overhaul:

Your customer communication is often disparate, coming from multiple departments with little consistency.

You’re aware pieces of communication are going out with your name on them, but have little quality control.

There have been incidents where pieces of communication have caused unnecessary issues due to a lack of oversight.

Customer response is often slow or non-existent because customers are confused about what to do – or simply can’t see the benefit of responding to you.

You don’t measure customer reactions and responses to the communications you send them.

There’s little input from communication specialists in the creation of your operational customer communication.

How to start improving communication with customers

1. Get a steering group together before you start

I can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve seen a project moving along swiftly until someone realises they’ve forgotten to include *insert department of choice*. The biggest mistake is treating an operational customer communication audit like a marketing exercise – it isn’t. This material will involve far more internally-facing, administrative teams who all need to be involved from the start. Compliance, legal, billing, IT – they’ll all have their requirements and perspectives which need to be considered.

There can be a tendency to fight departmental corners too, so we’ve found that focusing on the cold, hard facts gives a better result. That’s why we take results and objective measurement so seriously. You get better buy-in if you can point to better response or reductions in complaints rather than “it sounds nicer”. Likewise, if you can measure the standard of your operational comms objectively, you get around all the arguments about not sounding professional or not being clear enough.

2. Measure touchpoints objectively

This sort of project often gets bogged down with rounds and rounds (and rounds) of amends – often subjective and based on gut-feel. That’s why we use a set of tried and tested measurement tools to make sure each touchpoint is as effective as it can be.  We give a numerical score to every touchpoint, so you can identify the comms that need fixing quickly.

We measure readability and score it against the established indexes, so you can see how simple material is to read.  But you need to do more than that to really get to the bottom of comms problems and stop customer noise.  That’s why we also look at seven other factors when we measure a piece of communication.

This sort of objective measurement also overcomes the subjective and hard-to-reconcile comments that come with a varied steering group.

3. Focus on what matters most, then what’s wrong with it

Generally, you’ll have a core set of communications that get a lot of use. On-boarding, complaints responses, renewals. Focus on these first. A full communication audit can be a mammoth task so start small and eat the elephant piece by piece (excuse the mixed pachyderms).  Equally, you’ll have pieces of ‘landmine’ content which will have a higher negative impact – it’s our/your job to uncover these and prevent them from doing any damage.

If you’re getting internal resistance, then starting small is even more important. We usually build these sorts of project around a “proof of concept” exercise first, so we can build a solid business case for further improvement.

Once you can show a quantifiable improvement it makes everything else a whole lot easier.

Can we help you audit and measure your customer communication?

If you’re looking to audit and measure your customer communication we can help. Our process is built around an understanding of effective writing, information design, behavioural psychology, operational process and your own internal measurements for success. What’s more, we can demonstrate quantifiable results from our approach.

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