Communicating with care. OR How not to send a survey.

January 19, 2009

Email is the tool I prefer to use when speaking to editors, reaching out to friends and family and contacting businesses. I recognize the value of printing and there are some documents that are better suited for delivery or evaluation in a hard-copy form. But this deliniation is starting to fade, and with any newly adopted technology there are going to be some who use it poorly.

Let’s look at an email I received from a dry cleaner. Bear in mind that the business owner gets point for trying to use new media. They do not get points for ignoring the basics.

Let’s start with the positives. The Cleaner Spot has adopted Constant Contact as a tool to reach out to customers. They clearly want to find out how people like me feel about their services. They are saving time by keeping everything online. They’re to be admired.

OK, scratch that last comment. They are NOT to be admired.

Just being online isn’t enough in an age when the people you’re talking to have a bigger online presence than your business. It’s idiocy to not vet official documents like emails that go to your customer base and surveys from which you expect to extract value.

I’m not saying that a company can’t have transparent and free-thinking representation on Twitter or on their company blog (see @scottmonty on Twitter – he’s the voice of Ford in the social media space). What I am saying is that if you’ve entrusted your brand and messaging to someone, make sure they understand how to read.

If you can’t see the text in this email from The Cleaner Spot, it’s just placeholder text. Essentially it’s a series of instructions to Constant Contact on how to formulate their survey email.

In my eyes, this is akin to putting up a billboard with the words “Witty Headline Here” next to the product.

There were two articles in the Boston Globe today about people not knowing how to write longhand and about people not knowing how to communicate. This example falls into both camps.

I hope the next note from The Cleaner Spot includes $10 worth of free dry cleaning. Otherwise they’re going on my blacklist for being idiots. None of us has time for organizations that don’t value us enough to communicate clearly, professionally and intelligently.

Keep reading!