Do you ever feel like you’ve written the same email response twice? Three times? Maybe even several times in one day?
If you’re interacting with either customers or prospects, a few themes permeate your email inquires (whether the questions are explicit or implicit):
- What does X (your product or service) cost (initially and ongoing)?
- What problems are you solving?
- How does it compare with your competitor’s products?
When you have a moment, open your email and take a look. Look for those emails you’re sending over and over that have very little (if any) variety. Think about it: when something is typed, recorded via digital audio or video, etc., it lives forever. This is the first step in the Do-It-Once (DIO) methodology. When your company implements this, it will completely change the way you deal with prospects and customers.
The same emails = a Do-It-Once template
Maybe after digging into your Sent Items, you realize that there are, in fact, many similar themes to your email interactions. You’ve gone a step further and created some email templates you use to answer questions you’ve gotten before and don’t want to simply type over again. Saved you some time, right? You didn’t have to type the email itself and you didn’t have to proofread it for grammar or typos. You simply sent the well-crafted template instead.
If you don’t have email response templates yet, you might think you should stop here and create some right now. You could take an hour or so to go through your email, find the recurring themes that would benefit from a prepared response, and type the templates.
Hold on a second, though.
If you’re taking the time to develop the template system, let’s go one step further and make a mechanism by which all of your staff will communicate with prospects and customers the exact same way. Instead of different email accounts containing different email templates (and some having none at all), what if you had a repository of responses — a library of sorts — that everyone could utilize when interacting with prospects and customers? Better yet, what if you could gauge the efficacy of this system by way of data supporting your efforts? We could create a consistent customer experience system.
Whether a prospect or customer or yours is interacting with your most seasoned employee, or someone who just finished their initial training, the written content will be unambiguously consistent throughout. If prospect A asks typical question No. 4, then the corresponding answer will be sent as a response via an email link. Regardless if the answer is sent by the external salesperson, internal salesperson, support staff, etc., everyone involved in the sales process will know what’s already been communicated, and what hasn’t.
You might be asking yourself, “How is this any different than an automated email marketing system? You know, one of those services that sends emails automatically to your mailing list.” Here’s how it’s different: When you and your staff are responding to individual requests — in other words, something that requires you to push the Send button from your computer/phone/tablet — those ad hoc emails are oftentimes unedited and only between two parties. Everyone else involved in the sales process — unless we’re getting involved in the Cc: and Reply All merry-go-round — is unaware of what’s happening.
What if you (or whomever) could respond to an ad hoc request like this:
Sam — Thanks so much for your email! This is a very common question, and we actually wrote an article that we published on our website addressing what you asked, as well as some related concerns. Here’s a link to it …
If you have any other thoughts, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Then, you — or whomever wrote the email — updates your CRM system to reflect that you responded to typical question No. 4 with the link to the article on your website. When you’re doing your weekly review of open loops and proposals, you can check the website link to see if Sam clicked on it, as well as what happened after that. Did she read more articles, read customer testimonials, or take a look at pictures or videos detailing your company’s offerings?
Do-It-Once — A Living Repository
This repository is also purposely designed to be dynamic. Let’s say you write an article intending to educate your target customer on gluten-free recipes (you’re running a bakery) as of 2013. Then, you find a 2014 update and the statistics support your content to an even greater extent. How do you ensure that everyone starts using the more relevant up-to-date data? Send an email that says, “Now hear this. Everyone start using this data instead of the older stuff”? How do you ensure that the message was received? Ask to be Cc:’d on all emails relating to this data? If you’re not using an article library — a one-stop source for the accurate message you’d like to convey — the 2014 data may or may not be disseminated. By using an article library to ensure a consistent customer experience, you or whomever wrote the article edits it once on your company website, pushes the Update button, and it’s done. Everyone at your company continues using the same email response and link with no stoppage in the workday.
A consistent customer experience program is simple, but not easy. The concept may seem commonsensical, but implementing a Do-It-Once methodology requires concerted effort to ensure your messages are clear and educational — as opposed to sales-related — in tone.
How would implementation of a Do-It-Once methodology improve your business? Could you rest assured knowing communication with your prospects and customers would remain consistent? How would efficiencies improve? Alternatively, what shortcomings do you see in this methodology?