Missed Marketing Opportunities – in the land of automated reminders

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Lately I have been getting reminders. Reminders from a new hairdresser, reminders from my dentist, reminders from my doctor. Way way too many reminders. When did everyone decide we were forgetful?

It’s not just one gentle reminder, but in the case of this new hairdresser I received 5 reminders via text, email and voice mail – all asking me to reply! I clicked, responded, replied and still they kept coming.

Just because technology automates a way to “remind” a customer does not mean it is a good thing.

When I asked the new hairdresser why 5 was considered a good number of reminders he told me that it was because I gave the system too much information. “If you don’t want so many reminders then take off your email or your cell number and you’ll get less,” he told me. You know what I was thinking – I don’t need a reminder to remember to find another hairdresser.

Not only do I find this annoying but a huge missed marketing opportunity!

Why not use these “reminders” to tell me about a new product or service, provide a helpful hint or ask me a question? In the case of the hairdresser surely it would be helpful for him to know what my needs or hair challenges might be, right?

That same technology could be used to have a dialogue with me to further connect my needs to these services. It’s a simple formula; maximize opportunities to connect with customers new and old. Those connections build loyalty which leads to referrals and builds strong businesses.

The most aggravating part of these reminders is that not only was the communication one-way – them reminding me over and over what I was supposed to do – but it did not translate into any of these 3 service providers doing what they were supposed to do!

In all 3 cases I showed up a bit early, all forms filled out and checked in with the appropriate hostess or nurse – and guess what – all 3 of them were late! In the case of the doctor more than an hour! Perhaps their reminder service should have notified me of the delay, or better yet the doctor. I found out that a pharmaceutical rep had brought in a surprise food buffet to say thanks the day of my doctor’s appointment and that had slowed down the office!

Even crazier is that when I mentioned that these reminders could be put to better marketing use, all of them looked at me like I was speaking Swahili. Have we gotten so far away from true customer interaction that it now seems foreign to the very people we see frequently and count on for quality of life?

I shared this tale with a new hotel client the other day and it led us to review the customer interaction this hotel was having with its guests, from the online reservation to the check-out process. It was a terrific brainstorming session that led to some very positive and immediate outcomes.

Role playing is an important part of marketing – all of us should figuratively step into the shoes of our customers and let’s be sure we are walking-the-walk of what we are promoting through our marketing. To build repeat business and customer loyalty we need to humanize our communication and build a two- way dialogue that truly connects us with those who support our organizations.

P.S. You only get one chance to make a first impression. No reminders needed, you already knew that.

(And yes, one reminder graphic might have done the trick on this blog too! )

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