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“The Trap”

“Dear John, Thank you for your interest in our business. Unfortunately, your request cannot be processed at this time. Regards, Executive.”

I imagine that if you are reading this, then you are experiencing some level of disgust regarding the example e-mail above. Whether the first e-mail with a client or the three hundredth, it is always important to write for the customer.

Writing for the customer can mean many things. You probably already understand that it is important to sell to a new or prospective customer. After all, a new customer is still making his or her decisions, and a communication gap early on is a sure way to scare customers away. “The Trap,” however, can be easily fallen into. It looks like efficient communication geared towards solving a problem. However, it often looks like the example above: a note which says “you are not a valued customer.”

Avoiding “The Trap”

Dismissive writing is a red flag for any customer, and therefore should be one for any business owner. It is important to ask yourself each time you engage the customer whether the writing has a productive or a dismissive tone.

Some questions to ask to answer this question are:

Am I giving the customer options? Doing this presents a customer-oriented image of the company. It also avoids giving the impression to a customer that they are  paying for a “one size fits all” service.
What am I asking the customer to do? Correspondence sounds dismissive when it asks the customer to come up with their own solutions or their own follow-up questions. In other words, lead the customer through the service.
If I can’t do what they want, what can I do instead? There are many reasons that you could find yourself having to refuse a customer request. In these situations, it is especially important to provide alternatives to their request.

Customer interaction can be a difficult affair, especially when requests have to be denied. If you find yourself arguing with a customer more than helping them, try these tips.

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