How Are You Punishing Your Customers?

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My local Target is going through a painful remodel. My daughter Bella and I, our family’s designated shoppers, have been struggling through it with the brave staff there. However, last night might have been the breaking point for us.

So the store could be ready at the stroke of 10 p.m. to scoot all the veggies and meats away, the staff reduced these sections to a few, very sad wheeled carts and mobile fridge units. It was truly post-apocalyptic. I took two of the last four bags of apples, feeling guilty but determined to provide for my family.

The checkout guy, who didn’t yet need any of the shaving supplies I did manage to find (that part of the store is done, thankfully) wasn’t terribly sympathetic when I commented on the sad state of affairs. “Had to be done,” was all he could offer to Bella and I by way of an apology.

In short, the whole Target experience managed to rock my comfortable, suburban existence. It also got me thinking about how organizations often manage to punish their customers, especially when it comes to communications.

We’ve worked with a lot of doctors over the years and have learned this industry can be ripe for  punishment. For starters, how about the signs posted around the waiting and exam rooms? “Payment Required at Time of Service.” “No Cell Phones Allowed.” “No Unsupervised Children Allowed.” If you didn’t feel sick when you came in, you will after reading all the notices. Nothing about those signs makes patients feel cared for.

While doctors can make for easy pickings when it comes to communications missteps, many organizations abuse their clients and worse, prospective clients, with their websites. Don’t you love when you have to click around endlessly just to find  a business’s phone number or address? Or what about those businesses that still haven’t optimized their site for mobile, leaving you to stretch and move and zoom in on their site until you can kind of see what you’re looking for?

Finally, any discussion of business communication or marketing abuse would be incomplete with out at least a nod to the practice of robo-calling (or robo-texting) your customers and everyone else in the vicinity. Of course, many go the extra mile now by masking the real number behind their call. “It’s from Omaha, must be the in-laws,” you think. Oops, instead it’s that pesky insurance company again.

When you communicate with your clients, consider how your message may be landing with them. Are you rewarding them for their interest in your product/service/idea? Or are you making it unpleasant or difficult to engage with you? Don’t punish your customers; have compassion for them, because they could be you…or me, just trying to find a bag of apples at Target that looks like it came from this season’s crop.

Need a little help? We can help you determine the best way to communicate a more friendly and inclusive message to your target audience. Contact us today.