Not-so-lovely spam, not-so-wonderful spam
For a word that was only coined in 1937, “spam” has had an interesting journey – from canned food, via Monty Python sketch, to one of the major consumer irritations of the digital age. Businesses are feeling the stress of spam too – and not just because they’re also on the receiving end. Organisations that exist purely to spam consumers with irrelevant messages help give all customer communications a bad name – and make consumers more wary of relevant, useful information from scrupulous organisations. At the same time, businesses that want to communicate in the right way have to tread a fine line – giving consumers the information they need and avoiding looking like they’ve simply been abandoned, without crossing over into making customers feel they’re being spammed.
For organisations that do cross the line, the consequences can be more than irritated customers. There’s also the possibility of fines, as BT found out recently, and the resulting publicity making more consumers aware of the issue, potentially affecting public trust. Nobody wants to be seen as a spam café, so what can organisations do to avoid customers being overwhelmed?
The first step is to know customers. Part of the hatred of spam comes from its relentlessness, with consumers subject to emails and messages from multiple brands. If a business understands its customers, and can personalise its communications to their needs, then it will stand out against potential spam like a diamond I the rough. For instance, a financial institution that takes advantage of historically low interest rates to offer a highly attractive renewal of a customer’s existing mortgage will be welcomed mored than one that simply flings out emails about its new Gold card.
The second is to make communication a conversation – use the channels that customers will appreciate, with an appropriate message for the customer, and allow them to respond and even take the lead. For example, instead of sending energy customers a catch-all email about price rises, why not send an interactive breakdown of their energy costs and how to reduce them – as well as options to change their plan with a few clicks? After all, a customer can’t possibly complain of spam if they’re the one making contact.
Regulations such as GDPR are giving organisations a set of best practices that will help avoid irritating customers. Going beyond this to provide a new customer experience can reap significant rewards. Yet at all times, one golden rule remains: avoid a diet of Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam.
Download the complimentary white paper, How to gain customer loyalty in three steps to learn more.