Mis(sed)-Communication: How Your Business Is Missing What's Right In Front Of You

Companies are making greater efforts to "connect" with their customers. Are you making the most of your opportunities?

A quick story: I recently hired a financial planner to manage some assets for me. As a part of this process, I had to contact multiple companies who hold retirement accounts in my name so I can consolidate them.

One, in particular, asked if I’d like to start receiving e-statements. “Makes my life easier and it helps the environment,” I thought to myself. I selected ‘yes.’

Today, in the mail, I received a paper statement confirming my election of e-statements. While a bit redundant and ironic, I couldn’t help but think of this as an incredibly wasteful (and sort of insulting) bit of correspondence. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just email me this message and call it good?

But aside from the irony of the whole thing, I had to wonder: wouldn’t this be a perfect marketing opportunity to make an authentic connection with me?

Finding Opportunity

People are inundated with automated messages these days, so they’re probably not paying much attention when they get them – electronically or in the mail. And it looks like it’s only going to get worse.Gartner predicts that customers will handle 85% of their “relationships” through a computer, not humans, by 2020[1].

But what if there was a way to put these automated messages to good use? What if you could get people to pay attention again?

Instead of a redundant notice, you could do some positive branding by sending something about your company's environmental work (assuming you do some) in addition to thanking the customer for opting-in. That way, you'll connect with their values and inform them of their opt-in. Two birds, one stone.

Being Customer-Focused

If your company is looking to build loyalty and connect with customers, why not try to learn something about them? And if you can’t, do something simple, like assume they care about the environment when they opt for e-statements. The risk is pretty low.

And if they don’t care about the environment? No harm, no foul. At least they know a little more about your company either way.

Knowing that customers are choosing to do business with companies who share their values or ethos, wouldn’t this be a great chance to show common interests?

Tell them how your company is supporting recycling efforts. Or wildlife efforts. Or your new water initiative. Or efforts to reduce the amount of pictures of Kim Kardashian on the Internet. Anything!

When I received the letter, I opened it because I knew I had just accessed my account last week. They already had a well-timed mailing, but they missed out by not making it worth something more.

They don’t know I’m looking to consolidate my funds with one company, but had they made me care about them in the slightest, I’d be more likely to think of them when I do.

Small Victories

Let's play this out a bit...

A customer opts-in to e-statements, receives a letter a few days later confirming this choice, along with a brief note about the great work your company’s doing with a new recycling initiative. “How cool,” they might think to themselves. 

Next time they sit down to discuss rolling over their assets, they'll remember your company's shared values and be more likely to roll everything into that account instead of opening a new one.

Taking the time to think about something like an opt-in letter a little differently just won you more business and cost you nothing more than you were already spending. 


So…you want to connect with your customers? Make an effort to learn (or assume) a little about them and make your communications with them more relevant. Find small ways you're already in touch with them and make something more meaningful out of each touch.

Which company do you think customers are choosing? The one cranking out automated (pointless) letters to tell them what they already know, or the one who took the time to connect with them over shared values?

What ways are you missing communication opportunities? Have you seen small marketing victories done well? What would you like to see companies doing to make better connections?