Good, Bad and Ugly Customer Contact Practices

After getting my fifth useless e-blast from a vendor partner this week, I started opting out of everything I received from my vendor partners because of pure frustration. I buy from them, but they hit me too hard with thoughtless messages. Sorry, partners, but too much of a good thing poisoned this communication channel with me.

I get the feeling these vendors care more about campaign success than me. They don’t get in the ball park of my needs. I feel the person behind their e-blast program is saying, “More is better. Grab more e-mail addresses, send more messages. Send more and something will stick. Throw in any e-mail address we find on a business card in the rubbish or parking lot, or scraped from the Internet! Throw it into that massive pool of our ever-growing e-mail list, mixing customers with prospects.”

This “blast, blast, blast” mentality is sending a message to me that campaigns are more important than building customer relationships. Cost saving is king and covering everything the company does in one e-mail is efficient, so it is not important to know who the customer is. Companies with this mentality don’t know who the customer is and don’t care, because they just want to sell more stuff.

Seriously, we’ve all made mistakes with e-blasts like the best of them, so I should not throw stones while living in my glass house. But we all need to learn and adjust. It’s challenging, but I believe it is critical to categorize customers when conducting e-blasts and direct mail.

Begin with a defined process—a discipline—and the right customer relationship management (CRM) software. Then get to know your customers and segment appropriately. Don’t forget to train sales reps on the importance of gathering this information and how the information will be used. Don’t go nuts categorizing customers into three or four categories, or you will lose your mind managing who got what e-blast and when.

Michael Casey is the founder of Survey Advantage and strategic partner with several printer associations and franchises. By leveraging information from a printer’s estimation and production software, Mike’s business has helped hundreds of printers automate their customer feedback and lead generation process. He may be reached via e-mail or (401) 560-0311 ext. 103. Read printer case studies on the Survey Advantage Website.
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  • Mark Henry


    The whole newsletter and blog thing is a difficult road. Everyone tells me I need to have my own blog, and each company I work for should have a blog, or a monthly newsletter. There’s only so much time in the day, and putting together something worth posting takes effort (as you well know). As a result, like you I get 8-10 newsletters in my inbox each week – the bulk of which are junk. Many just outright copy articles from news sites, others "repurpose" older articles after some buffing. Either way, it’s a waste of my time. I don’t need more junk to sift through (isn’t there enough background noise already?), I need quality content; answers to pressing questions, insight from industry leaders.

    Give me good content and I will look at you as a knowledge leader in the market, and when I have a question, or a need will come to you. Give me junk or waste my time and you’re right off my radar.

  • Joanne

    Excellent points and a good comment from Mark. I’m reluctant as a printer to use email to contact customers, but appreciate these remarks to help incorporate it into the mix. How do I start looking for the right CRM software? We are on a VERY tight budget and I’m expected to manage this myself.