Thursday, December 17, 2015

Customer Service Is Important to Writing Because - ?


There. That's the executive summary, in case you don't have time to read the rest. Here's the rest:

I've been a copywriter for -- well, a long, long time. Whether it's a service agreement, ad copy, a white paper or company return policy, there's a secret to writing it well: Remember who you're writing for.

The Secret to Good Copywriting

I started lodging service complaints when I was in first grade, so you might say my writing career started on a sour note. I prefer to say that my writing is always, always informed by my customer service bent.

In my pollyanna world then, a good copywriter must be at least part customer advocate. When approaching an assignment, I ask about a gilion questions - often digging in to customer service and operations issues. This can make new clients nervous.  (I've heard more than once, "We're not writing about that. We just want to tell them about our new product." )  What I often hear about the final copy from my clients is, "Oh, I think our customer will like that."

Ya think?

Sarcasm aside, it's business 101. Generally, my assignments are not designed to serve my clients. They're intended to serve my client's CUSTOMERS.

(Un) Common Sense & Courtesy

There's some evidence that common sense and common courtesy are not quite as prevalent as they once were. In order to keep it positive, I'll point out that some companies (like Zappos, for one) use good customer service as a differentiating factor in their marketing strategies.

It should be obvious, but it's worth stating: If "good customer service" is a key piece of your marketing message, you really need to have the service and operational chops to back it up.

Also worth noting: Providing good customer service doesn't mean you have to be a doormat. I like the way HelpScout (nice product, even better philosophy) puts it:
Help Scout is fond of the Ritz-Carlton principle, to be “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” We hold doors, offer a strong handshake, and will pass on the last piece of pie—unless it’s pumpkin.
As HelpScout tips often point out, there are courteous ways to resolve problems with customers that don't involve bending over, or even handing over the last piece of pie/last slice of your margin.

A little bit of respect, and a lot of questions, can go a long way in creating good business communications and delighted, repeat customers.

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If you need a copywriter who's a little nutty about customer service, I might be the right choice for you. If you can overlook how long it's been since I updated my website...

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