Humanize your service branding
Ah, the subtleties of effective, warm, humanized customer communication versus ineffective, off-putting, robotic customer communication. There is such beautiful, simple power in having your service branding sound like a human being instead of a robot. At ALL touchpoints. This has been much talked-about in the realm of social media; your other brand communications should be just as humanized.
Case in point : Weight Watchers. Some time ago, I posted on my personal blog about some serious online communication faux pas I experienced with this brand. I subsequently cancelled my membership, but kept getting billed. When I inquired as to why this was occurring, I once again received a completely “stock”, non-human, cut-and-paste response. So, while it addressed me as “Susan”, it might as well have referred to “customer 182347659” because that is how it made me feel. And while it is signed “sincerely” it certainly doesn’t READ sincerely. It should be signed “Robotically yours, Rance.” The truly beautiful thing about it (sarcasm, there) is that, like prior inquiries to them, nothing in the response answers the question AT ALL.
Thank you for contacting WeightWatchers.com. The cancellation policy for Weight Watchers Online is as follows:
If you cancel your Weight Watchers Online account, you will not be refunded your sign-up fee. As stated in the subscription agreement, which you agreed to prior to signing up for Weight Watchers Online, the sign-up fee is non-refundable. In addition your account will be cancelled at the end of the month in which you cancel and you will be charged for that month. If you subscribed to a three-month prepaid plan, your monthly fees will be pro-rated at the non-discounted price. If you are eligible for a refund, it will be calculated according to our cancellation policy and you will see this credit on your next credit card statement.
Customer Service Associate
Now contrast this with another example, a follow up e-mail that I received after taking a class at the Kanyakumari Ayurveda and Wellness Center:
Big difference, right? The interesting thing is that the second example is just as “canned” as the first. It even addresses “dear attendee”, but because the rest of the e-mail is written so warmly, and in the personality of the woman who taught the class, it simply FEELS SO MUCH MORE HUMAN. You know, like this service brand actual CARES. Unlike the Weight Watchers communication, in which it was blatantly clear that their only concern is the inquiry having “that done feeling”.
This simple difference – humanity – is the difference between a relationship-builder and a relationship-killer. So, define your brand personality, and write in it consistently. Not just in social media, but in everything you do. Because if you don’t take care to ensure that your service branding goes beyond “having that done feeling”, you might just be giving your customers that “I’m done with this brand” feeling.